Friday, October 17, 2014

Ebola Infects the Presidency

Three Short Ebola Observations:

  • We American citizens were over confident and, well, downright smug about the ability of our vastly superior Health and Medical Structure to combat Ebola if it ever invaded our country.  Now, as it turns out, our strengths have proven to be our weakness.  In small African nations, the population is very poor and relatively stationary making it easy to locate and quarantine the infected people.
    Here in the United States, people are relatively wealthy and extremely mobile, taking trips constantly by plane, train, bus and even vacations on cruise ships.  In Africa an Ebola victim generally can only infect family, friends and very close neighbors.  Here anyone EXPOSED can jump on a plane, train or ship and expose hundreds or even thousands of people.  Our wealth and independence make controlling the disease both more difficult and vastly more expensive.
  • President Obama's extremely poor management style where no one is ever held accountable for anything, has created a massive bureaucracy of sheer incompetence throughout the Federal Government.  Never in our history has our government been less prepared to face a crisis.  As error after error piled up on the gross mishandling on the first Ebola patient, no one from the CDC ever did so much as issue an intelligent guideline, let alone provider hands-on direction to health care workers.  
    The hospital did not even have the correct protective gear for doctors and nurses for days.  The CDC never issued guidelines on how to handle the infection.  CDC Director Thomas Frieden, no matter how intelligent or educated he might be on infectious diseases, is a grossly incompetent manager. Worse, he is an ineffective spokesperson.  Many Democrats as well as virtually all Republicans are calling for his resignation.

    Peggy Noonan writes in The Wall Street Journal "The administration’s handling of the Ebola crisis continues to be marked by double talk, runaround and gobbledygook. And its logic is worse than its language. In many of its actions, especially its public pronouncements, the government is functioning not as a soother of public anxiety but the cause of it."
    To be certain Mr. Klain will have, as his primary job, communicating with the press and public.  Since he cannot credibly answer a single question, the press will eat him alive and the public will further lose confidence in the Obama Administration.
    You would think at least on person advising the President would have said, "Sir, you know this appointment of a political manager is going to look very bad and will reflect poorly on your continued handling of this crisis.  This IS NOT a political crisis, Sir, it's a medical crisis." 

    Perhaps it was said. Perhaps the President chose not to listen.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Ebola: Coming to a City Near You

Zsuzsanna Jakab, the European Director of the World Health Organization warned today that Ebola is certain to spread throughout Europe.  He stated it was "quite unavoidable."

This warning was tempered in a way that he hoped would not frighten Europe but enable them to prepare for the certainty that people in their countries, and perhaps their cities would contract the disease. 

It's not easy to contract Ebola, but it is difficult to provide the necessary isolation to keep the disease from spreading.  Fear is our very worst enemy.  People will lie to both avoid isolation and to seek treatment.  It's a dangerous brew.

Jakab's warning should have been made for the United States as well.  As it spreads through Europe it will invade the USA increasingly often.  And we lack practical methods of prevention, reasonable methods of isolation, and we have zero efforts at education.  

I'm frankly more worried about the impact on our economy even more than our national health.  Even a relatively minor outbreak will frighten most citizens.  And frightened citizens do desperate things.  The cost of prevention will be astronomical.

As has been the case under President Obama, virtually every threat has been underestimated, minimized or dismissed by the administration.  Ebola is no different.  We need a national health response plan now and our citizens need to be educated and informed to avoid panic.