In response to my last article titled ‘Will The Real Ebola Patient Please Stand Up’, I received an inquiry from a reporter who works for a large newspaper in Oregon. In the inquiry, the question that was essentially posed to me was ‘how do I define the word quarantine’. Basically, the reporter wanted to mince words about how I used that word in my article, and in passing also mentioned that there are (as of Nov. 4th) 5 people who are under Ebola watch pursuant to a self-monitoring quarantine protocol. What is concerning is that this brand new protocol is being lauded as ‘successful and working’, only because a few cases (the woman in Oregon from Liberia, the nurses in Texas and the doctor in New York) reported a fever and were subsequently hospitalized.
From my chair it’s a bit premature to characterize that a newly adapted protocol, with essentially just a few data points, as being ‘successful’ and ‘working’. What happens when someone has a faulty thermometer and doesn’t realize that they have a fever, and then continue to mix with the general public while symptomatic (the period when the CDC says people are most contagious)? Or what happens if someone is mentally unbalanced and doesn’t report a fever, or if the onset of the disease is so fast and severe, the individual develops symptoms while in a public location (Vomiting, Diarrhea, etc.), and so on; there are a dozen more possibilities along these lines that could lead to a failure in the protocol.
The reason that Cities, Counties and States are all looking at the self-imposed/self-monitoring form of a ‘quarantine’, as it has also been called by other writers, is that with the ACLU on the lookout for any perceived civil rights violations as we have seen in New York with the Ebola healthcare nurse Kaci Hicox, these government bodies are fearful of potential litigation by people who are forced into strict quarantine.
What really is at stake here is a full-blown epidemic in America if we have any bad luck while this protocol is in use. And the numbers of people who are now on such protocols is unknown. For instance, the health department in Oregon is saying that due to HIPPA regulations they unable to provide details about potential cases; where they are located during the voluntary quarantine, etc. Who knew there was already 5 people under Ebola watch just in Oregon. And more people are flocking to America daily from Africa as a result of the recent news of successful treatments for Ebola being provided here. I can’t blame anyone in Africa for trying whatever tactics to get into the U.S.; Mr. Duncan potentially being the poster-child for such a tactic.
What concerns me is this:
We have 150 people each day flying into America from Ebola stricken African nations!
Unlike many other modern nations, our borders are wide-open to all comers from African nations, and too many people in our government have been patting themselves on their backs as they trumpet to the world that we can handle anything the virus throws our way, when the facts on the ground paint a somewhat different picture.
More than 10,000 people in Africa currently have the virus and more than 5,000 have already died (and the CDC admits those numbers may be low). So far, the score here in the U.S. as far as successful treatment is; Mr. Duncan died and two nurses lived (the doctor in New York is still pending); that’s a one-in-three death rate even with treatment using the specialized hospital treatment suites (11 total across the U.S.: ), staff and drugs. What happens when there are more than 11 patients? What happens when there are 110 patients, or 1,100 patients? What’s the death-rate then? What’s the transmission rate to healthcare workers during treatment outside of the 11 specialized hospital-units? We know that two nurses in HAZMAT suits who treated Mr. Duncan both caught Ebola. Just in the past 5-months, over 200 trained healthcare workers have died from Ebola… so the rate of transmission is not insignificant, even among trained professionals.
If governmental health departments use the self-imposed quarantine and monitoring protocols across the country, and also keep as tight lipped as the officials in Oregon citing HIPPA regulations, we could potentially have hundreds of ‘possible cases’ distributed across the U.S. and you wouldn’t even know if a person in your apartment, or living next-door might be carrying the virus until an ambulance appeared with men in HAZMAT suits!
The ACLU may have unknowingly created a monster when they sided with healthcare nurse Kaci Hicox to have the State of Maine lift her quarantine, which was decidedly in the best interests of Ms. Hicox and not necessarily the community there in Maine or Americans in general. Even if she’s turns out to be virus free, the premature lifting of her strict quarantine may have set a very dangerous precedent. We need to keep in mind that the current Ebola pandemic, started with just one case in Africa. And if this deadly virus mutates in a single host and becomes more virulent, America could potentially suffer a devastating epidemic. Taking a cavalier political approach to this situation is extremely risky.
I believe that if men and women want to go to war and serve our country, they do so at their own risk, and all of our soldiers realize that. Similarly, any healthcare workers who bravely volunteer to go into areas that are beset by Ebola have to realize and understand that they cannot subject Americans back at home to any of the risk that they have assumed for themselves, regardless of how small the risk may be; if it’s greater than zero, then it’s too much. I believe that health care workers who wish to risk their own lives are certainly brave and desperately needed, but just like soldiers, healthcare workers should also be prepared to undertake a strict 21-day quarantine, which is the same protocol that our military has intelligently adopted to protect Americans. Does it seem that the military side of government is more concerned about protecting Americans than the civilian/political side?
Coming home to the U.S. from an area that is crawling with Ebola, and then expecting to seamlessly integrate back into society prior to clearing any potential time-frame for the potential transmission of Ebola is just self-serving and inconsiderate of fellow Americans. The ACLU needs to consider that; one person does not have the right (Constitutional or otherwise) to expose others to the risk of a potentially lethal disease, regardless of how small the odds are.
For one, I disagree with Kaci Hicox’s opinion of the low-risk that healthcare workers returning from Africa potentially pose to others. And if the virus has mutated in the body of a returning healthcare worker, it’s possible that America could be exposed to a far more virulent strain of Ebola, where existing protocols would fall seriously short, possibly resulting in an American epidemic of a more deadly strain!
We have already seen an airborne strain of Ebola once before and we were lucky that the military got a handle on that situation quickly, since that strain was located in an animal quarantine lab in Reston, VA. https://ispub.com/IJPRM/2/1/12768
The politicians who are leading the media are not erring on the side of caution, and instead have crossed over the double yellow line… now it may only be a matter of time until the worst case scenario becomes a reality.
I believe that if we are going to allow people to enter the U.S. who have recently been in affected African nations, regardless of the reason for their visit there, they must face a strict 21-day quarantine here in America. Anything less is inviting disaster! Ideally, we should simply close our borders to anyone originating from the affected African nations, and quarantine these people in Africa before they leave to other countries. Some people might consider a 21-day quarantine a hardship; to them I respond, have you ever seen and smelled a person infected with an advanced case of Ebola? If not, you can get a sobering education over on YouTube:
Knowledge is power and gives the ability to be prepared and to survive.
Cheers! Capt. Bill