Via The New York Times, a column by Charles M. Blow: The Ebola Hysteria. Excerpt and then a comment:
The absolute hysteria surrounding the Ebola crisis underscores what is wrong with our politics and the policies they spawn.
On Ebola, the possible has overtaken the probable, gobbling it up in a high-anxiety, low-information frenzy of frayed nerves and Purell-ed hands.
There have been nine cases of Ebola in this country. All but one, a Liberian immigrant, is alive.
We aren’t battling a virus in this country as much as a mania, one whipped up by reactionary politicians and irresponsible media. We should be following the science in responding to the threat, but instead we are being led by silliness. And that comes at heavy cost.
The best way to prevent Ebola from becoming a pandemic is to stop it at its source — in West Africa, where the disease is truly exacting a heavy toll with thousands dead and thousands more infected. But the countries in that region can’t do it alone. They need help. The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, said on Tuesday, “We’ll need a steady state of at least 5,000 health workers from outside the region” to fight Ebola in West Africa. That means health care workers from other countries, including ours.
Many of our health care workers are heroically heeding the clarion call. They are volunteering to head into harm’s way, to put their own lives on the line to save others and to prevent the disease from spreading further. But upon returning to this country some now risk “mandatory quarantine” even if they test negative for the disease and are asymptomatic. (Ebola can be spread only when a patient expresses symptoms.)
The public face of the affront to basic science, civil liberties and displays of valor has become the nurse Kaci Hickox. She accepted an assignment with Doctors Without Borders in Ebola-plagued Sierra Leone. But upon returning to the United States, she was quarantined in a plastic tent in a Newark hospital even after testing negative for the virus. She has been transferred to Maine, but there is a state trooper stationed outside the house where she’s staying.
Hickox is a paladin being treated like a leper.
The North American media, unfortunately, are turning Ebola into an American story, when it's an outlier, a footnote to an epic disaster. By contrast, the no-nonsense Norwegians got a live Ebola case, dealt with it, and released the patient when she recovered. End of story.