We are nearing the one-month milestone of the American public’s awareness of the Ebola crisis, and already many are proclaiming that they suffer from an entirely different malady: Ebola Fatigue Syndrome. Most of us are tired of hearing about Ebola, talking about Ebola and reading about Ebola, myself included. Regardless, it is important to continue staying on top of new and emerging stories-within-the-story.
For example, it turns out that the lab worker who handled the late Thomas Duncan’s specimens before boarding a Carnival Cruise ship did not have Ebola after all, according to the New York Times on Sunday. After a helicopter swooped down and landed on the ship to collect a blood sample from the passenger (this must have been great fun for everyone on the ship to watch), the sample was tested and it was determined the woman did not have the deadly disease. This is good news for her and the hundreds of cruisers around her – but the entire incident could have been avoided if the CDC had told the federal government to impose a travel ban on Ebola-exposed individuals.
That’s right: I’m advocating a travel ban on flights from West Africa, as many respectable people are, and also need a travel ban for anyone who may have been exposed to Ebola. What’s worse: telling one person they can’t board a cruise ship, or letting her on the cruise ship, then quarantining her and scaring the hundreds of other people confined to the ship – people who aren’t allowed to disembark at any of the ports, because the Mexican government said so? (See, we actually respect what the Mexican government asks of us; if they don’t want our citizens to come in, we don’t let them go in. Maybe someday, they’ll return the favor). No, the woman didn’t have symptoms until she was on the ship – but like Amber Vinson, a nurse who treated Duncan and was told by the CDC she was safe to fly to Cleveland even with symptoms – she was exposed to Ebola and should not have been allowed to travel, period.
I know what was said on Meet the Press: It’s a “myth” that a travel ban would stop the spread of Ebola. How can any rationally-thinking person still believe that? (I exclude CDC director Thomas Frieden from the description of “rationally thinking person”). I agree with Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), who said that we should temporarily suspend the visas of people traveling from West Africa. “I’d suspend those visas until we have this under better control, and have a sense that the carriers that they are using are monitoring this in a better way than they have been up until now.”
That just makes too much sense, doesn’t it? Blunt also pointed out that Americans didn’t get scared about Ebola until we realized how totally inept our hospital protocols were. He said, “It’s only when it’s not being handled correctly that people get concerned that it’s not being handled correctly,” he said.
It’s not being handled correctly by hospitals because they’ve never had to deal with it before. But if we stopped all travel from the countries where Ebola is coming from, our hospitals wouldn’t have to deal with it in the first place.
Ed Hoffman is the host of the Main Event on AM590 which airs Saturday 9:30AM- 10:30AM and Sunday 4:00PM- 5:00PM. Follow him on Twitter @EdHoffman, and like him on Facebook by searching The Main Event AM590.