Thursday, October 16, 2014

Shepard Smith says we have nothing to fear from Ebola virus, and that scares me a lot

    I grew up with Shepard Smith, although he's a few years younger than me. His father grew up with my father and is a good friend. I don't think I've seen Shepard since we were at Ole Miss together, but I've enjoyed the chance to observe his great success at Fox News over the years.
    Shepard was somewhat far to the left during his Ole Miss days and he's liberal today, which is fine. Without liberals we can't have conservatives, can we? So it doesn't surprise me that Shepard decided to serve as a shill for the Obama administration with a rant against media "hysteria" over Ebola.
    Feel free to listen to Shepard's rant. He's got some blatant factual errors, which I picked up right away. For example, he said the nurse did not show symptoms when she few from Cleveland to Dallas. This is just simply false. She had a fever of 99.5 and was instructed to fly on a commercial airliner by the CDC anyway. She almost certainly was not highly contagious at this point, but she was potentially contagious -- or at least the general consensus is that she was. So Shepard is just passing out false information, and I'm not sure why, since it is so clearly wrong.
    I suspect that Ebola probably isn't very contagious until the victim reaches the vomiting, diarrhea, and heavy sweating stage, at which point it becomes contagious beyond belief. With that said, I see no need for the government to encourage unnecessary risks, which it is currently doing. Ebola is considered contagious at the onset of symptoms.
    Here is the one fact I know for certain about the Ebola virus: Nothing is certain. And should we get to know anything for certain we won't know it for long, because the virus is constantly mutating. For that reason an abundance of caution is in order.
    I would argue that a certain amount of hysteria is both warranted and good. I think a fair definition of "hysteria" is an exaggerated fear or excitement. When it comes to Ebola, I think it is better that our society be too afraid than not afraid enough.
    Shepard says we have nothing to fear from Ebola. Nothing. This scares me almost much as Ebola does.
    Shepard says it's all politics. You know, when somebody like me, who is about as right-wing and conservative as one can get, starts screaming about the need to send massive amounts of medical aid to Africa, perhaps people ought to take notice. It's not politics. One recent article points out that liberals seem to be refusing to adopt sensible policies to fight Ebola simply because conservatives support them. Now that's politics.
    I'm not afraid that somehow I will catch Ebola because some nurse took a Frontier airline flight when she shouldn't have, even though the very long incubation period of this virus makes it especially dangerous. That's not the fear, and Shepard is right to say we shouldn't worry about this particular issue.
    The CDC has shown an extreme level of incompetence in battling the Ebola virus here in the United States. It failed to send a team of experts to Dallas for several days after Thomas Duncan was admitted. Apparently 78 health care workers were potentially exposed to the Ebola virus and two have now contracted the disease. The CDC told one of these nurses with Ebola to fly on a commercial jet after developing a fever. This level of incompetence is cause for some level of hysteria.
    Democrats dedicated to open borders insist on allowing people from countries with massive, uncontrolled Ebola outbreaks into the country without proper screening. The virus has up to a 21-day incubation period, but any infected person from West Africa who doesn't have a fever is permitted to enter the country, where they may then develop symptoms and infect others, as Thomas Duncan did. When the Obama administration essentially invites people infected with the Ebola virus to come spread it amongst the general population it is cause for some level of hysteria.
    Americans seem unwilling to establish or obey any safety guidelines concerning the Ebola virus. The second Dallas nurse violated CDC protocol by flying to Cleveland within 21 days of possible exposure to the Ebola virus. She wasn't supposed to fly; she did it anyway. NBC's chief medical correspondent Nancy Snyderman agreed to a voluntary 21-day quarantine after a member of her camera crew contracted Ebola. She broke the curfew in order to buy fast food. When Americans who are most knowledgeable about the need to follow safety precautions refuse to do so, how can we expect ordinary citizens to use good judgment. Yes, I'm afraid.
    There are two bits of good news concerning the Ebola virus in West Africa. First, a mathematical model which has been highly accurate in predicting the number of Ebola cases suggests the virus will begin to burn itself out in December. Of course, plenty will die before then, and I confess I have more hope than faith in the model. Second, the West has finally realized that the crisis in West Africa potentially threatens the entire world, and has been committing resources to stopping it (it doesn't help for Shepard to claim we have nothing to fear).
    Shepard says we have absolute nothing to fear from Ebola. Let me ask a question. We know that one of the 78 health care workers exposed to Ebola decided to breach protocol and take a plane to Cleveland -- and then was told by the CDC to fly back with a fever. There are 76 more exposed people. Is it not reasonable to fear some of the others may have breached protocol in a similar fashion?
    The CDC is considering placing the remaining 76 health care workers on the TSA no-fly list. These people are free to travel by car, but not by bus or plane. I presume that all of these 76 people are on paid leave.
    Does anyone consider it possible -- just possible -- that one of these 76 people might have family down in Mexico or even Central America that they've already decided drive down and see? After all, they've got a paid vacation, why not visit the family? Are poverty-stricken areas of Mexico and Central America well equipped to deal with an Ebola outbreak? Is this possibility not a cause for at least some fear?
    Most potential disasters will not happen. We can ignore or pay minimal attention to the Ebola virus and the chances are that it will burn itself out. When Herculean efforts are used to avert a crisis, no one knows if they are effective or not; if nothing bad happens perhaps the disaster never would have happened anyway. And so people like me are viewed as fear-mongerers or crackpots.
    I only offer my view as an alternative to Shepard's. He says Americans should have no fear of Ebola. I say we should all be very afraid. He says we shouldn't be hysterical. I say until the government demonstrates some level of competence in battling the disease, and adopts of policies to prevent new foreign cases from being introduced into the general population a certain amount of hysteria is in order.
    Do not remain calm. All is not well.

    UPDATE, 10/17/2014: One of the remaining 76 exposed workers did indeed go to Central America,  ON A CRUISE SHIP! She is reportedly asymptomatic and has voluntarily quarantined herself in her stateroom, but the insanity of her being on a cruise ship in the first place in mind-boggling. The nation of Belize would not allow her to come ashore to be flown back to the United States.
    I am very confident that my children, who are in ninth and tenth grade, could do a far better job of managing the Ebola crisis than is currently being done by the Obama administration.

No comments: