An Ebola outbreak was for a long time thought improbable in the United States, but with the first person to catch the virus within the U.S. now here — a healthcare worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, CNN reports — the time has come to be afraid. Very afraid.
There are many out there who will tell you that the Ebola virus is hard to catch. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said as much. Many commentators are dressing down the news media for “spreading Ebolaphobia” in an attempt to get eyeballs.
Some even joke that “Taylor Swift has broken more hearts than people who have died from Ebola in the U.S.” (One has died — Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who brought it to U.S. soil and ultimately infected the worker in Dallas.)
On the opposing side, you have the panicked calling for an Ebola travel ban to and from West Africa with many dismissing the CDC complaint that a ban would impede sending supplies and workers to the affected areas with the argument that you wouldn’t have to use commercial flights to get the job done. You could use the military.
More and more, that sounds sensible.
As someone who has loved ones in the healthcare field, I don’t feel particularly happy that they’re now at risk of catching Ebola just because they feel called to help others. This is a new and unnecessary threat to U.S. soil, and I will not apologize for not wanting this disease in my country.
Yes, I feel for the places where it is raging out of control, but we can’t solve all the world’s problems, and more often than not, when we try, they just end up hating us more.
But it isn’t the fear of what might happen to my loved ones who work in healthcare that has me utterly terrified (though it certainly doesn’t help). It’s this fact brought to life by a Redditor.
“A friend who frequently worked around radioactive material told me about an exercise they ran once. The team was supposed to treat a spill of liquid as if it was an actual spill of radioactive liquid.
“Unlike most such drills, this liquid contained a dye that was fluorescent under a black light, but not noticeable in visible light. After the drill was over and the spill had been cleaned up and the area was believed to be ‘clean,’ they brought out the black light. There was dye everywhere: on the floor, the walls, the team member’s work clothes.
“These people trained regularly on how to contain this sort of thing, as it was an important part of their job. Maybe they were just having a bad day, or didn’t follow all the rules because it was just a drill, but this example comes to mind whenever I think about people trying to avoid spreading an invisible contaminant. It’s harder than most people think.”
Since the Ebola outbreak first happened in West Africa and the U.S. decided to fly infected patients into the country and not issue the Ebola travel ban, we’ve been told not to worry at each turn.
The CDC says you can “only catch it through contact with bodily fluids.” They say we won’t have any problem containing it if it comes to U.S. soil.
Then it comes and an infected patient gets sent home. At first, 12 people are considered “at risk.” (Don’t worry.) Then 50. (Seriously, stop worrying.) Then 80. (Not a big deal.) Then 100.
At what point can we all agree that the CDC doesn’t have a handle on this, and we can expect more cases, perhaps even in your home city? This happened in Dallas, but without the Ebola travel ban, it could happen at any hospital. Would you think it was “much ado about nothing” then?
Why is it a M.O. of this administration and its supporters to wait until there’s a problem before taking the necessary precautions? We’ve seen it with ISIS and now the Ebola outbreak. Do we have to wait until it’s 100 infected rather than exposed before we do what’s necessary to protect the people of this country?
Despite our healthcare workers’ best efforts to contain the virus, treat the patient and stop the spread, they still get the disease. And they know a whole lot more about how NOT to get it than you or me.
Yes, I’m terrified of an Ebola outbreak, and you should be, too. Because at each turn, everything the CDC has told us has turned out a bit worse than it actually is. Ultimately, how much worse will it be? Only time will tell. Let’s just hope that when it does, it’s not too late.
[Image via pinterest and cnn]