William R Collier Jr- The CDC, in what amounts to a reversal of its earlier claims, is now saying that it is inevitable that Ebola will make it to these shores. What is more, the CDC said “the outreak will not be that large.”
Of course for the people who might endure a “not large” outbreak, if it happens, it would be devastating. But what is worrisome is that, after weeks of urging calm and claiming that an outbreak could never occur here, claims this digital newspaper took very seriously and embraced, we are now getting mixed signals.
There is also now evidence that illegal immigrants, or refugees as some esteem them, coming across the US border may include hundreds of people from infected countries as well as anyone they came into close contact with. This means that the probability that an outbreak could occur among the poor immigrant communities, and nobody is doing anything about it: the border remains open and these people are not being screened.
Some are using this to beat anti-immigrant drums: that is NOT our intention. We would urge screening, regardless of whether they are allowed to stay. Our concern is for their safety, many are in very cramped conditions. Even if an outbreak occured among them, it could be contained, but at what cost? Whatever you think of how they got here, it is inhumane to not care about their health.
Now with the African summit having just concluded on August 7th, and the dozens of people slated to remain in the US who have come from impacted regions, the risk has also risen. The current American President has refused to cancel or curtail the event and, like many other crisis, has promised to “study” this crisis without either promising or giving direct aide as of this writing.
Asked to send supplies of an experimental drug used on two US aid workers who contracted Ebola, the President said he needed time to “study” that too. What is more, during the Africa summit, President Obama barely mentioned the Ebola outbreak and it was not part of the agenda. Many Africa leaders were puzzled by this.
So while we have repeatedly stated that there is little to no risk of an Ebola outbreak in the US, the new facts on the ground, especially a lack of an adaquet and overwhelming response, must necessarily change that calculus. It is now still unlikely, but possible, that we could see an outbreak, and that it could be bigger than the government has predicted. One must legitimately question the veracity of what the CDC says, and this regarding not only the spread of the disease in general but also with regards how the disease can be contracted. For instance, claims that the disease is hard to catch may have to be re-examined- it is not as hard as, say, AIDS, to catch.
We are always very hesitant to ring the alarm bell for light and passing reasons, and we have tried to keep our readers calm and reassured of their safety, but new developments are, frankly, alarming. While we are not prepared to go in the other direction and claim that an outbreak in the US is inevitable, we are no long comfortable saying that it is virtually impossible.