What others say: CDC adds to confusion with Ebola

  • Monday, November 3, 2014 5:47pm
  • Opinion

A month after the first case of Ebola was diagnosed in this country, the Centers for Disease Control on Monday announced yet another policy for dealing with the dread disease and people who have been exposed to it while in West Africa. Meanwhile, U.S. Army leaders have adopted their own quarantine policy for returning military personnel and the governors of at least six states are imposing their own restrictions.

In short, the Obama administration has failed miserably to bring order out of the chaos of conflicting policies and it’s every government agency for itself.

A Pentagon spokesman has confirmed that all soldiers returning from West Africa (the U.S. has committed about 4,000 troops to the fight against Ebola there) will be isolated and monitored for the 21-day incubation period of Ebola.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Illinois (all among the five newly authorized gateway entry points for those arriving from West Africa) were joined by Florida, Minnesota, Virginia and Maryland in announcing varying degrees of quarantine for new arrivals.

Those announcements came in the wake of the hospitalization of Dr. Craig Spencer, who had just returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea under the auspices of Doctors Without Borders. Yes, Spencer was doing heroic work and he did the right thing by monitoring his own temperature twice a day and reporting to the emergency room when he developed a fever. But he also violated CDC protocols by traveling on public transportation (three subway lines), dining out and going bowling during the incubation period.

This latest effort by the CDC calls for those with direct exposure — such as a needle stick or unprotected contact with an Ebola patient — to avoid “congregate settings,” airline travel and public transportation. That is an exceedingly small number, and there’s no evidence that Dr. Spencer would have been included in the “direct contact” group.

So once again the CDC has come out belatedly with a policy that fails to address legitimate public health concerns. Now it is indeed every state for itself.

— Boston Herald,

Oct. 29

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