We will never persuade the American people or the ignoramuses in the corporate media that our attention and our resources should be focused on west Africa, not Kennedy Airport, if it does not appear absolutely and transparently true that our medical and public health infrastructure is fully competent to protect us. And no, it doesn't look like that. The medical director of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital should be escorted to the door and banned from the premises, along with the director of emergency medicine and the director of infectious disease. Not only was Mr. Duncan sent home despite telling the nurse that just arrived from Liberia and having a fever of 103, we now learn that after he was admitted to the hospital upon returning, his care team did not wear full protective gear for two days.
Nurses all over the U.S. are now coming forward to say that they do not feel prepared, have not been adequately trained, do not have adequate equipment, that procedures and policies are not in place, and that they have not drilled. Again, the probability that any given hospital will encounter an ebola case is very small, but public perception of risk is what's at stake here.
Then there is whoever is head of the division at CDC responsible for telling nurses who have exposure liability that they can go ahead and use their round trip ticket to Cleveland. This is not a question of the actual risk to the public, although I must say that as this story has played out it is not in fact zero. But even if it were zero, the consequences are inevitable and unacceptable: schools closed, hundreds of air travelers terrified, money spent to sterilize school buses and an airplane, public health workers spending their days following people around in two states who ought to be doing real work such as tracing partners of people with HIV and STIs, tracking down sources of food poisoning, getting kids vaccinated. In other words we will have some additional cases of infectious diseases because of this.
Now it turns out that a pathology technician who handled some of Mr. Duncan's specimens is on a Caribbean cruise in Belize. Let me repeat myself: it is irrelevant if she or he is actually at substantial risk. This is so utterly, gobsmackingly boneheaded that it makes me shriek. The risk is obviously not zero and what the hell will they do if this person starts vomiting blood in her cabin, on a cruise ship, in Belize? And even if the risk is zero, how do you expect the public to react to this?
The authorities seem to be doing everything in their power to fan the flames of fear and build them into panic. A display of competency and enough excess caution to convince people that it's really enough are absolutely essential if this is not to turn into a disaster -- an economic and political disaster, which will gravely damage the U.S. and meanwhile prevent us from doing what must be done in west Africa, which only the United States has the resources to do.
President Obama is saying the right things, but the CDC is doing its utmost to sabotage him.
Update: Stupid crap like this, for example:
The dean of Syracuse's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Lorraine Branham, spoke to News Photographer magazine about the decision to disinvite photojournalist Michel du Cille. "He was disinvited because of concerns that were generated by some students that led me to believe that it would lead to even more concerns," she said. "So it was in the best interest of the students for me to withdraw the invitation."He left Liberia more than 21 days ago, BTW.