Filed under: Africa, Democrat Corruption, Domestic Policy, Election 2014, Health Care, Immigration, Military, National Security, News, The United States | Tags: Samaritan's Purse, Stagecraft and Politics, The Weekly Address
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.