American Elephants


Yoo Hoo, Mr. President! Yoo Hoo, Tom Frieden! by The Elephant's Child

Take the time to watch the whole thing. Straight Talk, for the first time!

A Sane Man Speaks on Ebola:
“If West Africa is a gas can that was waiting for a match,
the rest of Central Africa is a gasoline tanker waiting for a match,
and nobody anywhere has a Plan B for what happens
if this gets out further….”

This is Michael Osterholm, Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP), originally aired on C-SPAN.

Finally, straight talk! Contrary to the emanations of the media, the American people have not been “panicking” about Ebola. Most of us have not been to West Africa nor do we know anyone who has. But we do recognize that it is a hell of a nasty virus, and in Africa, a very large percentage of the people who get it — die in a nasty way.

We want to believe that our government grasps the worst potentials of this disease, and is truthful and straightforward with the information they give us, and knows what they are talking about, and knows what they don’t know. And is just not trying, once again to cover their own behinds and avoid any blame for mistakes. That really isn’t asking too much. We are quite as much adults, if not more so, that the elites in the nation’s capitol.

(h/t: Vanderleun)



There Will Be Human Error. That is Our Nature. by The Elephant's Child

The unfolding epidemic of Ebola in West Africa has killed more than 4,400 people so far. Everything in Liberia was needed weeks ago, and the newly to be built Ebola treatment centers are very tardy.

Before the outbreak, Liberia’s only lab capable of testing blood for highly infectious diseases was the Liberian Institute on Biomedical Research. It was a bat-infested facility, a compound of World War II-era buildings that could only process 40 blood specimens a day, with electricity that worked only intermittently. The U.S. has sent in workers to rewire the building, fix the plumbing, install Internet access and update testing equipment. The lab can now process 70 specimens a day and are hoping to hit 100 soon.

The military is building the Ebola center in Bomi County, which has two doctors for 89,000 people. The Liberia Government Hospital, next to the Ebola site hasn’t had a working X-ray machine for two years. At the Tubmanburg Ebola site, the U.S. military has gone with tents instead of roofed structures to save time, and avoided laying foundations when possible. The first unit is expected to open in early November, The staff workers have had about two weeks of .intensive training. Soldiers will soon have floodlights to work around-the-clock shifts. They are essentially creating a health system from the ground up, on extreme deadlines.

On top of building treatment centers, they must build at least temporary housing and basic services for 4,000 military. Our federal government may be paralyzed by bureaucracy and political correctness, but the military is trained to pick up and go where they are ordered to go and complete the tasks assigned.

If everything goes smoothly, all will be well, but there’s a lot of room there for human error. And there will be errors. The insistence on claiming that Ebola is not airborne is troubling. Saliva and nasal secretions are bodily fluids. Aerosols are created by sneezing and coughing. The droplets that are really, really fine particles can, according to Dr. Jane Orient, director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, can infect you with one to ten particles. They can go through your mask, around your mask, down into your lungs. Theoretically, she said, it certainly is an aerosol. We cannot rule it out.

Obama’s stubborn insistence on no travel ban is more perplexing, as is the claim that he wants to bring infected patients from Africa here for treatment, but our troops can be treated in Liberia, should they become infected. The situation in Liberia has improved somewhat, there aren’t dead bodies lying around in the streets any more. Out in the villages, who knows.



Everything You Need To Know About Obama’s Response to Ebola: by The Elephant's Child

Judicial Watch, the public watchdog group, says that the president is “actively formulating plans” to admit Ebola-infected non-citizens to the United States just to be treated. “Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the U.S. for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

President Obama issued an executive order to call up National Guard and Reserve troops to aid in halting the spread of Ebola in west Africa for Operation United Assistance.

About 500 military personnel in Liberia have erected a 25-bed hospital, and are living in local hotels as they build accommodations for  the 4,000 troops on the way.

Deployed troops have received about four hours of training in protocols for protection from Ebola. They will not be expected to come into contact with any Ebola patients, so haz-mat suits are not considered necessary. A team of two from the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID)can train as many as 50 personnel over that four-hour time frame. All training is tiered to the level of risk each person may encounter.

If any American soldiers in Liberia contract the deadly Ebola virus, they will be quarantined, stabilized and evacuated to a medical facility for treatment, according to the commander of Operation United Assistance, Major General Darryl Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa.

“The risk of infection is relatively low,” he said.”As long as you exercise basic sanitation and cleanliness sort of protocols using the chlorine wash on your hands and your feet, get your temperature taken, limiting the exposure — no handshaking, those short of protocols , I think the risk is relatively low,” explained the general.

Seems to me there’s a remarkable lot of  “but what if” hanging around in those bits of information. But there you are.



Staying Off the Golf Course Would Be Good Public Relations. by The Elephant's Child

President Obama’s weekly address was meant to be a calming message about the threat of Ebola. Didn’t work. Mr. Obama seems to think we are in a state of panic about Ebola, and think we are in the midst of an epidemic. We’re not. We are worried because our elected officials, including our president, and appointed officials can’t seem to talk straight about the disease. Reminding us that “our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu,” is not particularly helpful. Thousands of Africans die from Malaria because they are not allowed to spray their huts with DDT. That’s not helpful either. It has no bearing on this particular disease.

“Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.” Well, no, it’s not difficult to catch. We have two nurses who have contracted it while they believed they were following the proper protocols. The hospital just hadn’t figured them out. It is transmitted through the air. Sneezing or coughing transmit bodily fluids in very tiny droplets that can remain in the air.  It can be transmitted through sweat left on airplane armrests, lavatory faucets or bus seats.

That was Obama’s second point. “Third,” he said, “we know how to fight this disease. We know the protocols.”Well, no. We’re learning all the time. 21 days may not be a long enough isolation period. Temperature checks at the airport are probably useless. Teaching people about the protocols may not be enough to overcome natural human carelessness. U.S standards for protecting healthcare workers from Ebola are weaker than those widely used in West Africa, according to the vice president of the aid group Samaritan’s Purse.

When Samaritan’s Purse health workers treat patients in Liberia, they wear two pairs of gloves and spray themselves with disinfectant twice before leaving the isolation ward. They have a three-foot “no touch” policy and hold safety meetings every day.

In U.S. hospitals — such as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, which has had three cases of Ebola — workers don’t have to hose down their gear and are told it’s OK for gloves to expose their wrists.

“If you slip, and you touch your skin on the wrist, you’re going to get Ebola,” said Isaacs, who has worked on-the-ground disaster relief in countries like Haiti, the Philippines and Bosnia. “Can we trust CDC? They said they were going to stop it in its tracks, but I don’t know.”

Does that sound like Ebola is “actually a difficult disease to catch?” Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC, has said “any hospital with an intensive care unit” can stop the disease from spreading. The CDC still does not know how the two nurses became infected. Frieden seems torn between trying to pacify politicians and pacifying the people. He must be the source for Obama’s confusion.

The Nurses union, National Nurses United, has been fiercely critical of the hospital this week, saying that the disease spread because of poor training and incompetent management. One nurse said she watched people at her hospital violate basic principles of nursing and medical care. Potentially exposed nurses would go into other patients rooms without disinfectants. All nurses should have been constantly monitored for 21 days because of exposure to Duncan.

President Obama’s Weekly Address is here. What is clear is that he takes as gospel the information he is given, and does not do any further inquiry on his own. Dr. Frieden  is not keeping up with the toilers in the fields of Ebola Central. The next post that pops up after the one about Samaritan’s Purse is from the CDC: “Airborne Ebola possible but unlikely.” Perhaps I misunderstand the meaning of airborne contagion. If it is not sneezes and coughs — what is airborne?

President Obama is so concerned that he spent only five hours on the golf course today, and held a nighttime Ebola meeting, the second in the last few days. His new appointee as Ebola Response Coordinator, Ron Klain, didn’t attend either meeting. Neither did the Ebola Czar, Dr. Nicole Lurie, who remains invisible.

The meeting included members of his national security and public health teams to update him on the response to the domestic Ebola cases. Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Kent Sepkowitz called the selection of Ron Klain as “stagecraft and politics.” He said it was disappointing that this was becoming, not a public health issue, but an optics “how are we going to look?’ issue, and ‘what’s it going to mean to the Senate races? issue.” Dr. Sepkowitz is, at least, clear on the priorities.



The Friday Night News Dump. Terrifying Incompetence. by The Elephant's Child

Late on Fridays, when everyone is on the way home, getting ready for the weekend and not paying attention to the news is the time that the powers that be in our nation’s capitol choose to allow unpleasant news to emerge.

—Friday night news: President is sending the National Guard to Ebola Central, apparently because the Military isn’t stopping Ebola fast enough. The Military sent so far, have had 4 hours of training in preparation for possible exposure. The expedition to Ebola Central has a name now—”Operation United Assistance.”

—DHS announced that it will be extending Temporary Protected Status to nationals from Honduras and Nicaragua for an additional 18 months and is instituting a new program to bring up to 100,000 Haitians to this country. The program will allow the new immigrants to apply for work permits. The “legal authority” is “family unification” for Haitians and on a case by case basis for “urgent humanitarian reasons or significant public benefit.”

—Judicial Watch says that Obama plans to transfer Ebola-Infected foreigners to U.S. for treatment. This is one of those they have information from insiders, but no confirmation, and certainly no official confirmation.

—The World Health Organization reported a rash of cases of Ebola in Guinea on March 25th, the first ever seen in west Africa. At that time there were 86 suspected cases and reports of suspected cases in Sierra Leone and Liberia. The death toll was 60. Today it has claimed more victims than all previous outbreaks. The current death toll is 4,493, and the WHO fears that it could see 5,000 to 10,000 new cases a week.

—A seventh child has died from Enterovirus D68. So far we have only one death from Ebola. Unlike Ebola, CDC is not publicly addressing the spread of EV-D68. According to the latest update at least 796 people in 46 states have been sickened with the respiratory illness that can cause paralysis in the period from mid-August through October 16. It is simply not known if  the disease is being spread by the presence of tens of thousands of illegal alien children, but the virus has been found in sick people in eight Latin American countries.

—The Pentagon has released a wide-ranging plan to ensure the U.S. military can adapt to and operate in a warmer world caused by climate change, which top Defense officials say exacerbates conflicts around the world and is an immediate threat to U.S. national security. This was last week, but it is so goofy, I’m adding it to the list. There has been no warming for the last 18 full years. Over the past century it warmed about one degree, and we handled it just fine. We are now looking at the possibility of a colder world for which we are drastically unprepared as this administration keeps attempting to destroy our major power source, coal-fired power plants which provide around 40% of our electricity with nothing to replace the power.

—Pilots from Saddam Hussein’s air force are training Islamic State jihadists to fly warplanes captured from the Iraqi army. Eyewitnesses accounts have seen warplanes taking off from the al Jarrah airbase and Syrian regime airbases in Aleppo and Al Raqqa province. The planes are believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 models and have been seen taking off and landing.

Other than that, Saturday is not all that promising either. Take two aspirin and relax with one of our Halloween movies.



Ron Klain Is Not “The Ebola Czar,” He’s “The Ebola Response Coordinator.” by The Elephant's Child

Correction: According to the White House, Ron Klain is not to be “the Ebola Czar.” He’s something else, and will report to Susan Rice. I do not find that encouraging. My impression is that Obama thinks Ebola is a political problem, probably created by Republicans, and he needs someone who is good at putting out political fires. If Susan Rice is an effective National Security adviser, It has not been evident in her public commentary nor in the Obama administration foreign policy.

President Obama is selling the new position as an “Ebola Response Coordinator” to restore order and manage operations across government. This would seem to require some familiarity with epidemiology and federal assets like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Mr. Klain’s resume does not extend much beyond his stints as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden , unless you count his job quarterbacking the Solyndra fiasco as no big deal. …

Then again, anonymous White House aides are telling the press corps that Mr. Klain’s partisan skills as a fixer are a credential. This may be the best indication to date of how Mr. Obama regards the dangers of the Ebola crisis, with risks to his own approval ratings near the top. Maybe three-star commander Valerie Jarrett can next prosecute the air war against Islamic State, if she isn’t already.

Mr. Klain’s resume is not encouraging.. He is said to be bright, but deeply involved in the backroom politics of the Democrat Party. He has no medical or health care background, but is closely associated with the Democracy Alliance and the Center for American Progress Action Fund.

The statement of purpose for the appointment says he is “to restore order and manage operations” across government. I don’t know what “order” he is to restore, but operations seem not to need managing, but learning. American hospitals are unprepared to deal with just one patient, and the results of not understanding the protocols is a multiplication of patients. Obama just doesn’t get it at all.



Obama Misidentifies the Problem. Offers the Wrong Solution. by The Elephant's Child

The White House has appointed an Ebola Czar, apparently unaware that they already have an Ebola Czar — which is understandable since she, Nicole Lurie MD, MSPH did appear briefly on September 11 to tell the Washington Post that her office was diligently working with other federal agencies “to ensure that U.S. health care providers, hospitals, health clinics, emergency medical services…have the information they need to be prepared to identify and treat Ebola infections, in case anyone in the United States becomes sick after traveling from affected countries or from contact with infected individuals,”  but has otherwise been invisible.

White House petitions are exploding with people demanding a ban on travel to and from Ebola Central in West Africa. Obama’s nature is to assume this is a political problem and appoint a savvy political activist to manage affairs.

I don’t think the administration gets it. Most people are not alarmed about the possibility of catching Ebola. We are alarmed that the people who have been placed in charge of national preparation for a possible outbreak have not prepared. Hospitals may have received instructions, but they didn’t do anything. People in the know say that none of our hospitals are prepared for Ebola patients, which would seem to be confirmed that the two nurses who contracted Ebola have been transferred to Bethesda and Emory hospitals respectively, where they have the right kind of isolation for very small numbers of patients.

Most countries slapped on a travel ban in August, and their airlines don’t travel there. A ban is a ban on all travel. People have to have a passport to travel, so how do they “go underground?” The president’s objection makes no sense.

We have had one Ebola victim from west Africa, who lied to get here, knew he’d been exposed. We’ve had one Ebola death. From that one man, we have learned that the agencies in charge have squandered their funding on questionable grants, and though preparing America for just such an exigency is their one job — it didn’t get done. Yet they are attempting to blame Republicans for a non-existent lack of funding. Now we have two nurses with the virus, unknown numbers of people exposed, one exposed person isolated on a cruise ship — causing Mexico to refuse to allow the ship to dock there.

Our government has sent off 4,000 troops to deal with the epidemic in west Africa, with nobody knows what preparation, and now says they will send National Guard troops as well. The military usually takes good care of their people, but recent evidence of an inability to call terrorism by its name, inability to conduct air strikes in a significant manner, insistence that global warming is an urgent national security measure, and excessive evidence  that political correctness has become a guiding principle concerning the role of women in combat and questions of gender assignment leave us questioning the effectiveness of the Pentagon.

More and more people are being quarantined, the protocols that were “guaranteed” to protect Americans  are now being revised. Americans are not afraid of catching Ebola, or not yet. They are afraid that their government is lying to them and that their government is incompetent to deal with this kind of problem.

We have unaccompanied illegal alien children dispersed to every state in the Union, with evidence of Enterovirus D68 raging in the country. TB, which was no longer a problem in this country is back, and we don’t know what other diseases if any.

Ron-Klain-APRon Klain, President Obama’s new “Ebola Czar” is a skilled political operator. He has no background in medicine. We can assume his job is to assure the American people that the government is really, in spite of all evidence, competent. He’s there to put out the fires. We’ll see.




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