Ebola is very deadly, Ebola could be an airborne disease. The Obama administration is making it a hell of a lot easier for those who have contracted Ebola to transmit it here in the United States, if the case of Thomas Eric Duncan is any indicator.
Killing Quarantine Rules. According to Politico circa April 2, 2010, “The Obama administration has quietly dumped quarantine rules that would have required air passengers to submit more information to airlines and strengthened the government’s authority to detain travelers suspected of carrying disease.” The Centers for Disease Control spokeswoman Christine Pearson said at the time, “It’s important to public health to move forward with the regulations.” The CDC withdrew the request. The Obama administration reportedly
No Travel Restrictions. The White House announced today that current procedures will be sufficient. Spokesman Josh Earnest said that observation of passengers and screenings at West African airports would cover it. According to Earnest, Obama has “strong confidence” in those procedures:
We’ve provided guidance to pilots, flight attendants and others who are responsible for staffing our transportation infrastructure to ensure that if they notice individuals who are exhibiting symptoms…that the proper authorities are notified….In light of this incident, the administration has taken the step of re-circulating our guidance…to make sure people are aware there is an important protocol that should be implemented.
Clearly, this didn’t help prevent Ebola transmitters from entering the United States. As for the notion that West African airports will properly screen passengers, that’s highly unlikely, given that Duncan boarded an airplane after carrying around a woman with fully-manifested Ebola virus. Seriously.
It is also unclear whether all airplanes been equipped with isolation equipment at this point.
Late Response in Africa. President Obama announced two weeks ago that he would be sending 3,000 troops to Africa to help quell the spread of Ebola virus. But Ebola has been spreading steadily over the last six months. Even his most ardent supporters believe that American intervention into the Ebola crisis came months too late.
Failure to Remove Restrictions on Drug Development. As Brendan Greeley and Caroline Chen of BusinessWeek.com point out, two American medical workers in Liberia contracted Ebola, were flown back to the United States, and were given an “experimental cocktail of Ebola antibodies” called ZMapp. ZMapp is not widely available, and the Food and Drug Administration waived restrictions on its use for the two Americans. The company that develops ZMapp was entirely federally funded, begging this question from Greeley and Chen: “Could a large stockpile of ZMapp have halted the spread of Ebola? No one can say. What’s certain is that the U.S. government hasn’t done a good job taking the idea behind ZMapp and turning it into a treatment.”
Failure to Regulate Immigration. Jessica Vaughan of the Center for Immigration Studies says that “It would be reasonable to designate Ebola as a communicable disease of public health significance. That would enable the State Department to impose tighter restrictions on visitors.” The State Department has done no such thing. There are some 13,500 people with visas currently in Ebola-heavy countries. The White House, however, says that border control has been implemented. White House press secretary Josh Earnest explained:
In light of this incident, the administration has taken the step of recirculating our guidance to law enforcement agencies that are responsible for securing the border, to those agencies that represent individuals who staff the airline industry, and to medical professionals all across the country to make sure that people are aware that there is an important protocol that should be implemented if an individual presents with symptoms that are consistent with Ebola.
This is the same administration that has failed to secure the border and instead has moved to ship illegal immigrants all over the country.
So, should we panic about Ebola? Absolutely not. But if we’re slightly worried, peg that on the response of our all-knowing federal government.