Until Thomas Eric Duncan brought it to America from Liberia, Ebola was a largely West African disease.
Then while visiting his family in Dallas, it was determined he likely contracted the disease in his native Liberia and knowingly brought it here. Confusion has reigned since that moment. After the hospital treating him initially misdiagnosed his condition, discharging him before being forced to readmit him, several days elapsed before a hazardous-materials team was finally dispatched to decontaminate the apartment where he stayed with relatives.
The team’s multifaceted mission: collect his bed linens, mattress and towels, as well as the suitcase that accompanied him from Liberia, plus other possibly-contaminated personal possessions. Following collection, store these items in industrial barrels at a secure facility. Then after obtaining proper permits, prepare the materials for permanent disposal and incineration at a landfill. Lastly, upon mission success, burn the protective suits used to complete said mission.
Duncan would die of Ebola complications on Oct. 8.
Lost in this story is how easily he arrived here and the immigration status of his Liberian relatives. Defying requests to stay home after his diagnosis, this led to them being placed under virtual house arrest while being monitored for symptoms of the deadly disease for which there is no known cure. Up to 50 additional people who had contact with Duncan continue to be monitored for symptoms of the virus, while two nurses who treated him have now contracted the disease. As a result, questions continue to be raised about the apparent lack of precautions taken during his treatment.
Meanwhile, an American freelance cameraman working in Liberia for NBC has returned to the United States for treatment after testing positive for a disease that has killed more than 4,000 people across West Africa. Remaining unknown is how he may have contracted the illness or whether his quarantined crew members have shown any symptoms. Reports have also surfaced that a nun in Spain is suffering from Ebola in the first documented case in Europe.
Although many experts believe the Ebola virus can only be spread by physical contact or through bodily fluids, others claim it is also airborne. Everyone agrees that Ebola remains an evolving and mutating disease once isolated to largely rural areas, is now present in urban population centers. With so many unanswered questions, British Airways and Air France have stopped flights from West Africa, and a growing number of African nations have also restricted travel to Ebola-infected countries. Yet where is the Obama administration in following suit?
While many urgently seek to halt the spread of Ebola, Secretary of State John Kerry recently addressed the United Nation’s Climate Summit, proclaiming that “climate change is the most serious challenge we face on the planet.”
A day later, Barack Obama said climate change would “define the contours of this century more dramatically than any other issue.” Then, he assured Americans that the chance of a U.S. Ebola outbreak was an “unlikely event,” an assurance like so many others he has uttered that have proven to be false.
Instead of using caution in restricting travel from West Africa into the U.S. or closing our porous borders, the president “has strong confidence” in our medical system and current screening measures to stop Ebola. Oh really?
To admit to the medical uncertainties surrounding Ebola or eliminating victims’ race in addressing the issue would not be consistent with the Obama we know. To impose travel restrictions or close our borders would require him to forsake an executive amnesty for illegals after the midterm elections. Political expediency in assuring new Democrat voters is preferable to safeguarding the health of Americans, and viewing victims as people, regardless of race would be politically incorrect.
Lest anyone need further proof that politics has trumped sound policy, Obama officials recently denied that ISIS militants had been apprehended on the Mexican border, even after ISIS announced its intention to send Ebola-infected fighters into the U.S. Federal lawmakers have also learned that U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials allowed at least 3,500 people from Ebola-stricken countries to enter the United States since January with no special medical screening.
Mixing politics with Ebola stokes fear and mistrust. How will it impact air and sea travel? What about daily life; mall excursions, restaurant visits, attending concerts and sporting events, even family vacations? Will hospitals feel confident treating its victims when providers’ very lives may be at risk? What about ever-eroding faith in government?
Under Obama’s rule, Americans have witnessed many unfathomable things, but a government oblivious to the threats posed by a deadly disease was never one of them until now.
Pray for a divine miracle America. Just pray.