Monday, October 27, 2014

Quarantine, Part Two


If the policy of quarantine were followed to its illogical conclusion, then why should not all those  who come into contact with Dr. Spencer be subject to the same restrictions as those placed upon Kaci Hickox? Is there no chance that one of them could become the next victim of Ebola in the United States?

Should any of these medical professionals be treating other patients in Bellevue? Do they? Do they walk the halls of this hospital where there are many who may be more susceptible to infection than the general public?

Or how about the soldiers who are setting up the medical installations in West Africa? Will they be quarantined upon return to the United States?

And if paranoia and conspiracy theory (the government is not telling us what it knows- President Obama in speaking out against a quarantine is willing to put lives at risk rather than be forthright about the lack of understanding of how and when this disease is spread) rule the day, then why don't we examine a much more real health risk in this country. The flu.

As the CDC reports:
  " it is important to convey the full burden of seasonal flu to the public. Seasonal flu is a serious disease that causes illness, hospitalizations, and deaths every year in the United States. CDC estimates of annual influenza-associated deaths in the United States are made using well-established scientific methods that have been reviewed by scientists outside of CDC."

The CDC reports that there are between 3,000 and 49,000 deaths caused every year in this country by the flu, depending on the strain and other circumstances. This is a much more easily transmitted disease than Ebola and the consequences can be just as deadly. But do we isolate and quarantine every doctor who treats these patients? Or do we take rational and appropriate precautions predicated on the information we have gathered?

When we take actions that are not guided by scientific knowledge and undisputed fact, we follow a treacherous path to unknown destinations. The governors who demand a protocol predicated on hysteria are not to be applauded. The plain and simple truth is that there is absolutely no evidence to suggest that anyone can be infected with the virus unless and until certain markers have appeared, including a spiked temperature and excretion of bodily fluids by way of vomiting or diarrhea. Until that point in time, what is the basis for demanding detention?

To imprison people, make them pariah and treat them like criminals, does harm to our constitution, our citizenry and to those true heroes who are on the front-line trying to end this outbreak.

When we condemn first and ask questions later it reminds us of the most significant quarantine that this country has ever endured. In February of 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order compelling the forced internment of  American citizens of Japanese ancestry. Their crime was nothing more than the accident of the birthplace of those who came before them. 127,000 people were displaced from their homes, and detained in camps, suspected without basis of harboring secret loyalties to Japan. It was not until 1998 that the Congress of the United States attempted to make amends by awarding each survivor of the camps $20,000.

We are, or should be, a country better than that. We are, or should be, a country that does not criticize Dr. Spencer without cause, or hold Ms.Hickox against her will. We are, or should be a country that ennobles dedicated professionals who perform the hardest of tasks at the most perilous of moments. Stop the panic, take a deep breath, and move forward in a sane and reasoned manner.


Anonymous said...

Well said.

My thing during this hysteria is this: how many people during this time died from guns and we don't do anything about that.


Anonymous said...

Right on, Robert!