First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low. We've been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn't get on a plane for the United States. In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we've taken new measures so that we're prepared here at home. We're working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We're working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.
Even more worrisome than the Dallas nurse contracting Ebola from Duncan is the fact that she was wearing full protective gear during the 90 minutes she spent with Duncan. Healthcare workers in Africa have also contracted Ebola, despite also wearing protective gear.
Perhaps these health care workers weren't careful enough. It could also be the case that the Ebola virus is more virulent than we are being told.
Some CDC statements make it sound like direct physical contact with the an infected person is the only way to contract Ebola. For example, this news release stating that Ebola "transmission is through direct contact of bodily fluids of an infected, symptomatic person or exposure to objects like needles that have been contaminated with infected secretions."
Yet other CDC statements concede that Ebola can be transmitted by a cough or sneeze: "if a symptomatic patient with Ebola coughs or sneezes on someone, and saliva or mucus come into contact with that person's eyes, nose or mouth, these fluids may transmit the disease."
In other words, if you are sitting near someone who has Ebola, whether on an airplane, in an emergency room, in a classroom, or wherever, and if that person sneezes, and saliva droplets get on you, and you then rub your eyes or touch your mouth or nose, you could contract Ebola. That's clearly airborne transmission of the virus.
Now we are being given so-called assurances that airline passengers traveling from Africa to the United States will be screened for Ebola — by having their temperatures taken when they arrive. "I'm confident that so long as we work together, and we're operating with an appropriate sense of urgency that we will prevent an outbreak from happening here," Obama said when he announced the screening change.
How confident could Obama be? As confident as he was when he said it was unlikely Ebola would reach the United States?
Frankly, I'm not very confident at all that the "enhanced" screening measures will be preventative. It takes anywhere from "two days to three weeks after contracting the virus" for symptoms to appear [ref]. Even if it is true that an asymptomatic person cannot transmit Ebola to other airline passengers, an asymptomatic person won't have a fever, will pass the screening, will enter society, become symptomatic, and probably get other people sick.
What about a passenger that does have a fever, and the people they were near while waiting to board the plane, or while sitting on the plane, or while departing the plane? What about the germs they left in the airplane lavatory, that another passenger picked up?
Now, I'm not trying to be an alarmist. I am trying to be a realist. The reality is that, if Ebola continues to spread in Africa, and beyond Africa (Spain now has at least one confirmed case), the chances of Ebola outbreaks in the United States increase, and checking the temperatures of air travelers will be even more futile.
What if Ebola spreads to South and Central America? Our sieve of a Southern border would become a prime transfer point for those fleeing an epidemic, or for those seeking treatment. And how many Ebola cases would it take in the United States to hammer our hopes of halting Ebola's spread? One hundred? A thousand? Do we even know?
Can we trust the assurances of a man who has lied to us hundreds of times before, who promised us that if we like our insurance plan we can keep it, or if we like our doctor, we can keep our doctor, who told us it wasn't likely Ebola would reach the United States?
When he says, "I want to assure everybody that the likelihood of any epidemic here in the United States is extraordinarily small," does he really expect us to believe him? Or is it just another episode of Ebola Bologna?
2014-10-20 It has been pretty quiet the last few days on the Ebola front. Hopefully that's a sign of Ebola's spread halting, rather than an attempt to keep things quiet.
2014-10-15 The CDC refuses to consider banning incoming flights from West African nations. They argue that the ban would effectively shut down commercial flights and make it impossible for relief workers to get to West Africa. Meanwhile, the possibility of incoming Ebola looms, as the Ebola crisis increases in Africa. There is a very simple solution to the problem, one that will cost the U.S. government much less than if there is an Ebola outbreak in the United States: Fly relief workers on chartered commercial or military aircraft.
- The Jaw-Dropping Number of Ebola Infections U.N. Official Says We Could See PER WEEK by December
- Second [Texas] Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola
- Newly Released List of Conditions Dallas Nurses Say They Faced While Treating First Ebola Patient
- CDC Officials Confirm They Gave Second Dallas Ebola Nurse Permission to Fly — Even Though She Had Low-Grade Fever
- Four Unsettling Ways the CDC Has Changed the Way It Talks About Ebola