Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Politicizing a Plague

By Alan Caruba

If President Obama does not want the Ebola virus to kill Americans, why has his administration done nothing to restrict any flights from Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, the hot spots in Africa where it appears the virus is spreading?

One of the reason flights from Liberia were not stopped, we have been told, was the historical link of the U.S. with that nation, founded as a place freed slaves could migrate. That is no excuse in the face of the threat of a single Liberian with Ebola getting off a flight in any U.S. airport.

The decision not to stop flights has nothing to do with health and everything to do with politics, Obama’s far left ideology, and his dislike for America that has been on display for anyone paying any attention. It has driven every decision Obama has made since first taking office.

The White House has decided that stopping flights would heighten public concerns, possibly creating an aura of panic. This is a very bad, very lethal decision. It demonstrates the indifference to facts and to common sense for which the White House is now famous.

Every poll demonstrates that Americans want our borders protected and access from West Africa denied.

It is likely that the White House wants to tamp down any sense of heightened public concern until the midterm elections on Nov. 4. Then add to that the criminal lack of truthfulness that has accompanied anything affecting this White House has done from Benghazi to setting free five Taliban generals in exchange for someone likely to be deemed a deserter from the U.S. Army.

When the Director of the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Thomas Friedman, became the focus of news media inquiries regarding the virus, it was clear that he did not have any greater knowledge of the problem, other than the scope of its threat, than anyone else. Indeed, within a week of his first press conference, he said that the CDC and U.S. medical community needed to come up with a whole new approach to Ebola.

When Thomas Duncan, the Liberian in whom the virus was not initially detected died, we were treated to scenes of intensive decontamination efforts at the Dallas hospital, but a nurse who treated him became the first U.S. victim and Dr. Friedman was quick to blame a “protocol breach” as the likely reason. Now a second nurse has Ebola.

The likely reason can be found in the fact that thousands of people die every year from viruses and infections they acquire at a hospital.

The first and likely the second nurse wore protective outfits from top to bottom while dealing with Duncan. In Africa, the earliest victims have been the doctors and hospital staff tending those with Ebola. Any U.S. medical personnel returning from Africa should be quarantined after they arrive. The President has dispatched more than 4,000 military personnel to Liberia and their quarantine should be far longer than the 21 days we keep hearing about. We are now hearing it should be up to 40 days.

The notion that airport staff has any capacity at all to spot someone with Ebola is ludicrous, yet we are being treated to the charade of passengers having a device waved over them to detect a fever.

All this is a political approach rather than a medical one. It is political theatre.

One example of this was a statement by Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, who blamed the lack of funding the NIH has received for research, including vaccinations for infectious diseases. He noted that the NIH has been working on Ebola vaccines since 2001, but does it strike anyone as odd that in all the time since then nothing has been developed?

In fairness, though, the NIH budget has declined 23% over the past decade. The current budget, however, is $29.31 billion. That is a substantial amount.

Congress represents more politics. Dr. Collins remarked that it did not appear “enthusiastic” about passing an emergency supplemental appropriation. For those in government the only answer to any problem is to throw more money at it.

Worse, a Democratic Party advertisement even claimed that the Ebola threat is due to Republican cuts in funding of healthcare research, but those cuts were bipartisan by virtue of the sequestration limits imposed. Not mentioned was an Obama administration decision to abandon a set of regulations which the CDC considered essential to prevent international travelers from spreading deadly diseases inside the U.S. At this point, the question is why?

So far Ebola has been located in West Africa, but in this world of global air travel, but without rigid restrictions it is only a matter of time before it begins to show up elsewhere including here again.

When that happens you can point a finger at Barack Hussein Obama who thinks it’s more important to have good relations with Liberia than it is to shut down any possibility that an African or anyone else at risk of having Ebola will arrive on our shores.

At that point, however, it will be too late.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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