Can The U.S. Government Protect Americans From Ebola?

This is the question that is central to the notion that Americans should seriously consider taking their own steps on a personal level to protect themselves should an epidemic begin.

We now learn that a doctor who treated Ebola patients in Africa and who had recently returned to New York had violated known protocol and was touring the city while he was infected. According to the New York Daily News, after frequenting several public areas (bowling, etc), using the trains and taxis, he was finally ‘hauled-off’ in a HAZMAT suit to Bellevue Hospital. How does this happen?

We know this much for a fact; if the situation worsens in America and Ebola starts spreading, quarantining the infected may only get us so far, even though the concept of ‘isolation’ is relevant. The key question is what is the most effective protection for Americans should things spiral out of control?

As we see, trusting others, even some doctors leads to risks; they are only people and in the end not everyone can be trusted to do the right thing all the time.

What about protecting Americans by isolating the healthy?

This is a strategy that many Americans can implement and control themselves, IF they are properly prepared well in advance of the onset of any epidemic and the panic that will no doubt ensue in such an event. In the event of an epidemic of any deadly virus, including Ebola, Americans could choose to just stay at home until the risks from public areas are cleared.

Being properly prepared means; having enough water, food, medicine and other needed supplies set aside at home, which allows individuals the option to stay at home for as long as necessary to allow an epidemic to burn itself out in the immediate area (could be several months).

If an epidemic should ensue, many forms of transportation will likely be severely limited, and this coupled with isolating the healthy, as well as quarantining the infected, may be one aspect of a total strategy that should be considered and openly proposed by the government (inform Americans to accumulate supplies needed to implement an ‘isolation strategy’ of the healthy). This, along with severe limits on intercontinental and regional travel may be the ultimate solution.

Let’s hope that someone wises up in time to save America from a possible Ebola epidemic.

Cheers! Capt. Bill

CaptainBillFrequent contributor, Capt. William E. Simpson II is a U.S. Merchant Marine Officer with decades of boating and expedition sailing experience, who has successfully survived long-term off the grid at remote uninhabited desert islands with his family using sailboats that he equipped for that purpose. Capt. Bill holds a U.S.C.G. 500-ton captain’s license for commercial inspected passenger vessels, including, power, sail and assistance towing vessels. He is also the author of many articles on sailing and the book ‘The Nautical Prepper’ (Ulysses Press) You can read more from the Nautical Prepper on Capt. Bill’s personal site at www.williamesimpson.com

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  1. The government at all levels cannot save us, but they could be taking great steps towards protecting us. It is a double-edged sword, but I support heavy-handed measures to prevent the spread of the disease. The needs of the many are definitely outweighing the needs of the few, or the one.

    Without a doubt we should be banning all flights inbound from Ebola infected countries, and I would go so far as to say their neighboring countries as well in case some people simply travel to another airport.

    I would allow any Americans to leave the country if they so wish (such as these doctors choosing to go abroad and help people) but also enforce an out-of-country quarantine on any people who have traveled to infected countries wishing to enter the US for the now-recommended 42 days.

    We need to secure our borders to prevent random people (sick, terrorists, or otherwise) from simply walking in.

    Once discovered in the country, anyone with Ebola or suspected of it should be quarantined in their home for the now-recommended 42 day period by force (local hazmat-suited police) so as to not infect the hospital system. Stepping outside your property should result in an arrest and a trip to a specialized medical holding area/facility. If a person knowingly spreads the disease or leaves their property while symptomatic I believe execution is appropriate. That’s a harsh judgment and very foreign to what America is, but we’re talking about a terrorist act, in my humble opinion, at that point.

    I readily admit this is scary language and going down a very dangerous path, but at what level do we have to make these sorts of decisions before it’s too late? It’s a complicated issue, but there are 300+ million people here that need to be protected and when we have TWO doctors running around and escaping quarantine either out of ignorance or sheer contempt for society and the rules which they would impose on anyone else, I think stronger measures are called for.

    I’d really like to hear if any readers have other suggestions as to how to take active control over this situation. I believe in this scenario that doing is better than not doing, but we have to make sure that what we’re doing is a cure and not further harm.

  2. I’m always amazed at how those who most vehemently oppose government intervention and oversight are always the first to cry out to the government and demand they do more.

    The reason our border is not secure is because there is no possible way to do it. The US/Mexico border is 2,000 miles. Secure that one, and then they’ll just fly into Canada and cross. The US/Canada border is 3,987 miles long. Secure that one, and they’ll take a boat and put in at an unattended beach. The US has 12,383 miles of ocean coastline. To secure our borders would require 96,993,600 lineal feet of fencing which the determined would just dig under. If you tried to man that by placing 1 person every 200 yards, it would take 17,600,000 people! But wait, those people can’t work 24/7, so it would actually take a minimum of 316,800,000 people working 32-40 hour weeks to secure our borders. The population of the US? Approximately 316,100,000 people. It’s. Just. Not. Possible.

    So what’s better? Allow people to come through the approximately 160 international airports in the US where they can be subject to screening, or shut down all flights and then have them coming over the border with no screening?

    We’ll catch the vast majority that way, and if someone is intent on executing a biological attack, they’re going to come another way. It’s like trying to secure your house. If someone really wants in, eventually they’ll get in. You just need to slow them down long enough so that you can get there to deal with it.

    So, accept that from now on, we will regularly have reports of Ebola in the US. It’s unavoidable. Most will be inadvertent, and remember that there has yet to be a case of casual transmission between an infected person and a non-caregiver on US soil. Why? Because people go to the hospital when they think they might have it. Fastest way to make this spread? Make people think they’ll be locked in a FEMA camp or shot for having gone outside when they just felt slightly crappy and never in a million years imagined they might have ebola. They’ll hide it as long as they can and go about infecting the people who try to care for them outside the system.

    But what about the malicious ones? Remember World War II? How every citizen had been trained to be on the lookout for suspicious activity? Train people that they are the first line of defense against Ebola. If you see someone who appears to be that ill, call authorities. Establish a rapid response team that can quickly isolate suspected cases until testing is complete.

    And yes, be ready to self-quarantine.

    Because here’s the fact of the matter – the earth is overpopulated and it’s getting worse everyday. Eventually, some type of pathogen will emerge to rebalance things. Maybe it’ll be Ebola. Maybe it’ll be another Spanish Flu. Maybe it’ll be something even more horrifying which we haven’t discovered yet.

    You can’t stop everything. That’s why we prep.

    1. Still Waters, thanks for commenting.

      You’re right that we definitely can’t stop everything and that’s why we prep. I agree with some of your points and you’ve made me think about a lot.

      “Vehemently opposing government intervention and oversight” (which I admit I usually do) is different when comparing constitutional vs unconstitutional use of that power. I’ll oppose government oversight and intervention all day long regarding trying to protect us from ourselves and doing things not expressly permitted. Ebola and terrorism taking advantage of open borders is not the equivalent of mandatory seat belt laws, gay marriage, or the income tax. Securing the borders and keeping outside threats….outside, however, is something I believe the government not only should do, but is mandated to do.

      You make an interesting point about letting things in through the airports where we have better facilities to catch whatever it is that we’re trying to catch. I never thought about it that way, sort of like a funnel-mouthed trap. That idea has merit, but just like gun laws, I think the only people we’ll catch are the law-abiding ones who go through the airport because they’re supposed to. Any criminals and people who want to up their chances of getting in are going to go via open borders. That’s why I think we need to secure them.

      Should we build a Great Wall of Mexico? No. Static defenses went out with WWI. We have the ability to use drones, cameras, sensors, satellites, mobile air and ground units to patrol that border, but we have to fund it and we have to put bodies in the right places and back them up with legislation and authority to do that job. That is a responsibility of government that is intentionally not only being neglected, but actively sabotaged. Same thing goes for the Canadian border (which I believe our friends to the north have a strong interest in protecting as well) and our Oceans via the Navy and Coast Guard. We could stop a lot more of the crossings without putting people every 200 yards.

      And this is the very reason I’m surprised you appear to be against securing the border. Your house analogy is perfect. Slow them down because a determined criminal will get in no matter what. I think using the interventions I mentioned does just that and is proactive compared to what I believe is your strategy of leaving the borders open. Perhaps I am mistaken in what I’m reading. It almost seems like you’re advocating that the writing is on the wall and things can’t and won’t get better, so if we want to live we need to start cutting ourselves free from the umbilical cord which attaches us to government. “That ship has sailed” sort of thing.

      I applaud your suggestion about educating the public to keep an eye out for things, but I wonder if this day and age that wouldn’t be more of a “Big Brother” snitch program as opposed to the good old fashioned patriotic days of WWII where people had America, mom, and apple pie on the mind. Perhaps I’m totally ignorant of the way life was back then. My day job deals with people peeking out the windows at their neighbors like Gladys Kravitz on “Bewitched” and they snitch on the stupidest things. Local government (which is in the best position to be first responders to these sorts of things) can easily be overwhelmed and lulled into annoyed indifference when inundated with complaints by the watchful eye of “concerned citizens”. There’d be a huge learning curve and a lot of headache, but perhaps that’s worth it if we can get our population to take their eyes off their iphones and their minds off smut, tabloids, and immediate gratification.

      I will admit that I think you’re right that people who fear the government will be less likely to go to the government and admit the possibility of this disease. Again, the laws will only really keep the law-abiding from doing wrong. Sending a “rapid response team” is still a government intervention which I think would carry the same fear of being locked away in a camp. Governors Cuomo and Christie of NY/NJ just said that “voluntary” quarantines are an oxymoron and not enough. Doctors don’t obey them, why would anyone else? They’re planning to step up their states’ individual responses and I think they’re on the right track with forced quarantines.

      Lastly, I don’t know where you’re getting the info that the earth is overpopulated. I think we mismanage our resources and pollute because we’re greedy and criminally negligent, but I think there’s plenty of room and resources for everyone plus a lot more if we became more eco friendly. Even if a disease is playing its role to “rebalance” the world, it goes against survival instinct and natural law not to try to avert it. I’ve not quite given up on humanity by being willing to let government get away with not doing its job thereby letting a plague strike down a huge swath of people.

    2. Great comments and points from both of you on all sorts of topics. I have a slightly different take on border security and the Ebola problem.

      On border security: I don’t believe we can police it all as Still Waters states and really if we build a fence to keep people out that could just as easily be used to keep us in. I believe our problem isn’t that we have a line in the sand that can just be crossed over; it is that we incentivize people to come here. I would take away every incentive to illegal immigration (jobs, tax refunds, welfare, food stamps, voting rights, free tuition, any benefits, health care, citizenship for their babies) and I can almost guarantee people would stop coming over here on their own. Without assistance they wouldn’t be able to support themselves unless they worked enough to make their own way. But what about the jobs that regular people don’t want to do? I think that is bull. Our unemployment rate says that people need work, but they don’t want to do menial tasks? Why? Is it because it doesn’t pay enough? OK, then the price of goods has to increase to support it. You can’t have it both ways and allowing illegals to come here to perform low wage jobs hurts everyone eventually.

      I am all for legal citizenship but anyone coming here must help the system not be a drain on it.

      Regarding Ebola. My problem is that one of the most deadly diseases known to man has been treated like a cold. First, we actually flew people into our country and placed them in regular hospital facilities. Whenever our scientists work with Ebola, it is in highly controlled containment facilities so I can’t understand why it was allowed into the open. Will people come in contact with Ebola and show up here? Probably to Still Waters’ point, but they should be dealt with like they have a disease as serious as Ebola. Telling the public that you can’t catch it is stupid in my opinion. We should be concerned and the Government whose main mission is to “Provide for the common defense” doesn’t appear to be doing that.

      Pat

      1. Taking away the incentives to come here is a great idea. I haven’t heard many people talk about it from that angle – it’s usually always the line in the sand. I think that for a good many people though the dream of America is better than the reality and that means millions will still come here unless the line is protected.

        I liken it to the Detroit suburbs where I grew up and how my dad taught us about the minorities fleeing the ghetto and how that leads to white flight and neighborhood destruction. Essentially the first people to show up are the ones who worked hard, saved, and can afford the dream. But as time goes on the old residents leave, housing costs drop, and people with less means, upbringing, and ability or desire to maintain things move in. Eventually the neighborhood is destroyed, but in the minds of the folks from the ghetto who moved in, their new ghetto is still better than the old one they fled.

        We could also remove our own incentives to not work by lowering the “reservation wage” ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reservation_wage ) by eliminating or modifying a lot of the welfare programs.

  3. Our government could do more but for what seem to be political calculations refuses to do so (If they close the border to stop importation of disease, how can they go back to claiming that securing the border would do nothing to stop illegal immigration?)

    Conspiracy theorists claim that Obama is dragging his feet because a) these are fellow Muslims and b) a pandemic would be made-to-order as an excuse for the expanded use of Executive Orders, up to and including a declaration of Martial Law.

    Personally, I think he’s in over his head and has been for the past 6 years. He’s a small time community organizer with a greatly inflated sense of self-importance who has always displayed a desire to rule, rather than govern.

    As for educating the public about self-quarantine and advising them to get materials & supplies sufficient to carry them over the duration, perhaps 6 months or longer, it ain’t gonna happen for two reasons: First, it would require the administration to admit they screwed up and that their “protocols” were inadequate and, Second, they wouldn’t want to deal with the ensuing mass panic & chaos that would result from millions of citizens all trying to prep at the last minute.

    Preparations will continue to be made by those of us who are paying attention. Hopefully, when/if self-quarantine becomes necessary we’ll find that the conspiracy theories about Obama’s EO allowing government to confiscate Preppers’ supplies is only urban legend.

  4. Looks like I created a monster {;-) … I didn’t think it would stimulate such a wide-ranging discussion.
    From my chair:
    As Jeff Foxworthy said; “We live in a country founded by geniuses but run by idiots”.
    1. Government is great, as long as it does exactly what it’s supposed to be doing, and as long as it doesn’t exist to serve itself; it’s supposed to serve the People it works for.

    2. ‘Government Intervention’ is fine as long as it doesn’t; a) violate the Constitution the spirit and intent of that brilliant foundation, and; b) doesn’t violate or infringe upon the Constitutional rights of Americans. We are now seeing unilateral presidential edicts at-will (“I have a pen and a phone”… Pres. Obola), where such edicts are not pursuant to the best interests of the People, and where via these edicts Americans are being robbed of their rights including land and personal property . Many politicians and some people (mostly the Leftists) think that Government exists for the sake of Government, and not the People. Hence the expansion of government until it is crushed under its own weight, as was the case in the Soviet Union (Epic Fail of Socialism).

    3. I don’t think most people want or expect anything ‘more’ than what any father would do for his own family (you don’t sell-out your kids in exchange for a better future for yourself; the current administration is selling us out as fast as it can). Americans put these ‘people’ (I am being generous here, since some politicians don’t rise to that level of evolution) in a place of authority over them, like the father of a family (not discounting the women are also heads of families). And Americans place these people in authority over them with the understanding and belief pursuant to the Constitution that they will do-right by the People who elected them. Politicians make promises to get elected, swear an oath to uphold the Constitution, and then many of them break those promises and their oath to the People (what’s not to like?). While some others just lie and say anything to get elected and satisfy an illegal agenda in violation of the Constitution that does not serve the People; these politicians (and their corrupt appointees) belong behind bars (“you can keep your doctor; your insurance costs will go down; Benghazi; Fast & Furious; we don’t use NSA to spy on Americans and our allies; we don’t use the IRS as out attack dog when you disagree with us; the odds of Ebola coming to America are extremely low, etc”… Barack Hussein Obama).

    4. We have a grand total of 4 hospitals with 11 beds equipped to handle diseases like Ebola with ‘negative pressure’ rooms (BLS-4 lab security equivalent in a hospital setting). And on the other hand we have trained nurses in HAZMAT suits at the ‘best’ hospitals catching Ebola! We have health-care workers trained in treating Ebola dying by the scores. If we see even a small outbreak that is undiagnosed (or sick people wishing to dodge mandatory quarantine for whatever reason, maybe to go bowling) we are in very serious trouble. Ebola spreads ‘exponentially’ (that is a mathematical expression which is largely misunderstood), which indicates that even a single case in the U.S. poses a very serious risk to the entire population. We’ve been juggling razor blades; just because we haven’t been cut yet is not a ‘plan’. Maybe some people need to be reminded that the epidemic is Africa started with just ‘one’ case?

    5. As far as the ‘border’ situation; some people have never been to the U.S. – Mexico border: I have an it’s a joke! Anyone can cross on foot in several locations in either direction. In fact there are large stretches of border along the Texas – Mexico border where Mexicans come across the river and burglarize American homes and then cross back into Mexico with the stolen property where they sell the stolen property…. happens daily! We already have 12 million illegal immigrants in the U.S.! Many come across because they ARE sick and are looking for free health care (sound familiar? Mr. Duncan from Liberia did exactly that). How many more illegals should we should allow in? How many hundreds or thousands of people coming-in or returning to the U.S. should we should quarantine, and where exactly do we keep them all; in the U.S.? And why should American tax payers pay for all the billions of dollars they drain from our infrastructure? Here’s an interesting little tidbit of info… Just ‘one’ patient with Ebola creates eight 55-gallon drums of deadly (BLS-4) hazardous waste during treatment whether they live or die, and just ‘that’ waste costs tens of thousands of dollars to dispose… if we do a little math related to just this cost related to an epidemic, it’s obvious that a mass epidemic could easily bankrupt our nation.

    When I lived and worked (legally) in Mexico, I had occasion to go to the post office to mail cards and letters… on one occasion there was a line half-way around the block. When I asked my Mexican amigo about it, he told me the line wasn’t for the Post Office, it was for the Western Union in the same building! When I asked him about that, he said that locals are getting money sent to them from family members working illegally in the U.S. and they wire the money into Mexico. So the illegals, work here, pay no taxes, get food stamps, WIC, free health services and vote in our elections and send the cash they earn into Mexico. Another nice feature of the open borders. As I learned, as a legal worker in Mexico, I would never be able to vote there, even if I achieved the highest level of immigration status (Immigrado); on top of which, I had less rights than any Mexican citizen (and Americans have zero U.S. rights when in Mexico). And the Mexicans don’t make it easy to become an immigrant in their country by having application forms (dozens) that do NOT come in any language except Spanish. You are forced to learn to read and write at least enough Spanish to complete and process your applications, unlike in America where we print everything for immigrants in dozens of languages and have telephone services in those many languages as well.

    In Mexico when they catch illegals, they deport them IMMEDIATELY. And if you have a car, or a boat, or any property there, you lose it! They put you in a van and drive you to the border, right now (no citation and request to return to a hearing, etc… no ‘I am a Dreamer’). Maybe we could get lessons on dealing with illegals from the Mexican government? BTW, American tax payers have already paid to fence the entire U.S. – Mexico border a couple times over… yet the politicians haven’t seen it completed. And the current administration’s agenda is geared to let even more illegals in, not less. So they have a conflict of interest, and that does not serve the American People.

    The way it’s going now, it won’t be long until America will be like any other third world socialist failure… full of lawlessness, corruption, poverty and disease. Our infrastructure will collapse.

    We have a country that was founded by geniuses and is now being run by clowns… God help us!

    Capt. William E. Simpson II – USMM
    Semper Veritas / Semper Paratus

    http://www.WilliameSimpson.com
    IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/name/nm6505899/
    Twitter: https://twitter.com/NauticalPrepper

  5. No Captain, thank you for the article. These types of conversations are how we better define and understand the problems we face and synthesize effective responses based on actual experiences instead of theory.

    And Marine, I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and your thoughts based on your previous posts and comments. I’d welcome you as part of my MAG anyday.

    As for you Pat, obviously I’m a fan or I wouldn’t keep coming back.

    I can’t remember who said it, but one of my favorite ideas which I’m about to poorly paraphrase is this – for every action you take, you can expect it will have at least three additional consequences you did not foresee, at least one of which will be negative.

    I don’t advocate inaction. In fact, I agree that the borders should be more secured than they are, that government should better perform its constitutional duty and stay out of the rights of the states and individuals, and that incentives for immigration need to end.

    But these are not simple, complex or even complicated problems. They are “wicked” problems, meaning variables of the problem are so interdependent that changing or attempting to solve one variable creates new problems. And you don’t get to learn by trial and error. One shot changes the variables, and most plans go right out the window. What’s the phrase Marine, no battle plan survives the first shot?

    We can end incentives for immigration, but that won’t stop the family whose 12 year old son was abducted and enslaved by the local cartel and then threatened with the death of their other children from trying to come here(true story). While some are taking advantage, most are just trying to survive. Desperately so.

    Marine, policing the border doesn’t need to be static, but at some point the system will rely on human input. After the 50th time an alarm goes off because the sensor is on a game trail and picks up a herd of deer crossing back and forth, how alert do you think the person monitoring it is going to be?

    Sometimes what people perceive as inaction by those responsible for planning and implementing solutions isn’t inaction. It’s good planning because they can foresee the most likely consequences of certain actions 20 steps down the road and realize that the long term cost to our society doesn’t justify immediate action.

    Just this morning, Doctors Without Borders reported that a US nurse subject to the new mandatory quarantine rules in New York and New Jersey is being forcibly quarantined in an unheated tent even though she tested negative for Ebola. The government is already finding ways to detain lawful US citizens in unacceptable conditions because of the “public good” for non-criminal offenses. And we’re begging them to do it!

    This is classic “Overton Window”.

    And as for human overpopulation, the majority of the issues we face are because of it. I’m not going to go into all the reasons here. Check out the wikipedia page on it for the varying opinions, studies and citations of the sources (some better than others) on this issue.

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