Aren’t we all tired of Ebola media and political idiocy?
I admit — my eyes start to roll when I hear another member of the news media or politician tell a lie about Ebola or try to score a political point with a ridiculous policy that will do nothing to stop the spread of the disease. But they keep going, and call them out we must.
The latest examples come from the East Coast, where recently Dr. Craig Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola in New York City. A volunteer for Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders, he returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa. He followed the strict protocols set by MSF, self-monitoring his temperature twice a day. When it reached 100.3 degrees, he called MSF, which set in motion the correct response: He was taken by special ambulance to the Ebola treatment unit in New York’s Bellevue Hospital. He tested positive for Ebola and is now under treatment. As of this writing, his condition was serious but stable.
Dr. Spencer had eaten out at a few restaurants, gone bowling, ridden the subway, and taken a ride in an Uber taxi. But the city didn’t go into a panic — guess it takes more than that to ruffle New Yorkers.
But that was enough to ruffle the Chicken Little feathers at Fox News. Host Megyn Kelly reported that Dr. Spencer had a 103-degree fever and called him “irresponsible.” (Note number difference: Kelly has a law degree but apparently missed some classes in basic math.) “He doesn’t tell anybody and if he starts to feel symptomatic before his 103 fever, he’s still out there bowling and taking taxis and not quarantining, not just self-quarantining?” she harrumphed self-righteously. Pardon me if I don’t provide a link.
Once again: Ebola is contagious and is spread ONLY when a person is exposed to bodily fluids of an infected patient, such as vomit or diarrhea. No symptoms, no contagion. That’s why health care workers are the ones at highest risk, but they’re also the ones who know how to self-monitor. End of story.
Kelly’s idiocy wasn’t as dumb as statements from Fox contributor George Will, who claimed he had seen mythical research that Ebola can be airborne. Challenged to produce the experts, he grabbed an institution out of the air — the University of Minnesota, which quickly stated publicly that no one there had said any such thing.
A nurse returned from treating Ebola patients for a month in Sierra Leone — something she called “the hardest thing I’ve ever done.” Kaci Hickox tested NEGATIVE for the Ebola virus. Nevertheless, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie decided she should be isolated for 21 days. In this case, her isolation meant living in a tent attached to a hospital with a Porta-Potty and no running water. She was left for hours before being fed. And this unnecessary isolation was for someone who already had tested negative.
Christie went on no fewer than five Sunday talk shows, spouting off how he had “no second thoughts” on his decision to isolate Hickox, whom he called “obviously ill.” This was even though medical experts such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Travis Bassett said the move was unnecessary and could hinder volunteers from going to Africa to help fight Ebola. Hickox wrote a stinging opinion piece in the Dallas Morning News and secured legal counsel.
Suddenly Christie seemed to have second thoughts and allowed her to leave, to go back to her family in Maine. Oh, and Hickox was only ill in Christie’s mind — she is doing the twice-a-day monitoring and has no symptoms.
Christie’s policy in New Jersey was duplicated by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo. He, too, backed down, after coming to his senses. The proper approach, say all health experts, is monitoring, not automatic quarantine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is making needed tweaks about quarantining and monitoring and issued some revised policy today.
The list of politicians who have made idiotic statements about Ebola is seemingly endless. But today’s winner is Rep. Louie Gohmert (R, Texas), who seems to be trying to outdo himself in stupidity. First it was his claim that the Ebola diagnosis of the two Dallas nurses (who are now fine, by the way) was proof of “Democrats’ war on women.” He somehow had “inside knowledge” that President Obama had “cut a deal” with African countries to “bring in people with Ebola” to infect Americans. Oh, and Obama must hate the military, because the reason the president sent troops to Africa was not to build hospitals to try to contain the epidemic; it was to “infect the troops.” The “silver lining,” Gohmert claimed, is that Ebola makes Latinos “too scared” to want to cross the border and will thus cut illegal immigration. Again, pardon me if I don’t provide links; your computer could explode from all of the stupidity.
Maybe after the Nov. 4 election, some people will return to their senses. Ya think? Me, neither.
UPDATE: Now comes word that U.S. troops who were building hospitals in West Africa to fight the epidemic have been isolated in Italy. U.S. UN Ambassador Samantha Power is on a trip to West Africa to meet with officials about the epidemic; I suppose people will want her quarantined, too. Sigh.