Avoiding Panic Regarding Ebola

With some conservatives playing politics with Ebola, it is good to see that Shepard Smith at Fox is being more responsible. See the video above where he explains why there is no reason to panic. Hopefully this will calm down the conservatives who are being incited to panic and see this as reason to vote against Democrats by other conservative voices.

As Shepard Smith explains, there is no outbreak of Ebola in the United States. We had an isolated case of one person with Ebola returning to the United States. Unfortunately, two nurses who cared for him when critically ill contracted the virus. Some mistakes were made. Hopefully what was learned in this case will help reduce the risk of this happening in the future, both in terms of handling patients with Ebola and in monitoring those who care for them. One key point is that Ebola is highly contagious when someone is this critically ill, but it is not contagious before symptoms appear.

Unfortunately far too many people in this country learned epidemiology from The Walking Dead. Some conservatives who otherwise deny evolution are now claiming Ebola could mutate to become an airborne menace–and this is far from the most absurd thing being claimed.

There is no need to panic and initiate bad policy such as a travel ban, which is primarily supported by Republicans.  A travel ban is unlikely to be effective and could have several adverse effects. It could make it harder to treat Ebola at its source. Further spread in West Africa would increase the risk of worldwide spread. Adverse effects on commerce in Africa could make it harder for local governments to deal with the problems. People who came from the region would be harder to track as this would give them motivation to come to the United States by less direct routes and deny possible exposure at borders. Even during the SARS outbreak a decade ago, with a disease which actually is airborne, travel bans were found to be unnecessary and ineffective.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    “Some mistakes were made”!

    Well, that’s one way of putting it although, somehow, were a Republican administration running the country I doubt you would be so relaxed. And allowing a nurse to fly on a plane who had treated an Ebola patient and who reported that she was running a temperature strikes me as more of a gross dereliction of duty rather than “a mistake!!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    “were a Republican administration running the country I doubt you would be so relaxed”

    It would have no bearing if it was a Republican. Unlike Republicans, I don’t play politics and attack Republican government officials over things which they have no responsibility for. The President does not run the country. The mistakes made have zero bearing on Obama. The president doesn’t run either hospitals in Texas or man the phones at the CDC.

    If we want to play politics, it is the Republicans who blocked his nominee for Surgeon General because of his concern for gun violence. It was Republicans who have cut spending on public health. The Governor of Texas would have more responsibility for errors in his state than the president. The Republican governor went out of the country. There would have been a lot of noise about that if he was a Democrat. The Republican governor is also responsible for the hospitals having less money, such as with refusing the funds which would have been provided from participating in the expanded Medicaid program.

    To be more accurate, the person who “reported that she was running a temperature” reported only a temperature of 99.5, far short of the guideline of 100.4. Medically her viral load would not have been high enough for her to be a threat of spreading Ebola to other airplane passengers. Obviously to be safe, considering her close contact with an Ebola patient, she still should not have flown, but this did not really pose a risk.

    While these errors were not the responsibility of the president (regardless of party), it does become his responsibility to intervene in case of a crisis–as Obama has. On the other hand, we saw how Bush failed to respond until way too late in the crises which occurred when he was president–such as ignoring the pre-9/11 warnings about al Qaeda and initial failure to respond to Katrina.

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