President Obama is finally taking the Ebola crisis seriously, but he and his cronies in the administration continue to downplay the dangers to an irresponsible degree. Americans deserve to know what they’re in for, and they deserve to hear it from the highest levels of government. Politics be damned. Panic be damned. We need the truth.
The numbers behind Ebola make it obvious that this isn’t going to be a passing media fad. While there is that tiny sliver of hope that we can get this thing contained before it spreads out of control, we must be prepared for a worst case scenario. There is an exponential growth quality to the virus, and that can’t be ignored as we move forward. In the affected West African countries, we’ve seen that each new Ebola victim spreads the disease, on average, to two others. Those two spread it to four. You can take it from there.
So far, in the very limited cases of infection we’ve seen in America, this rate of reproduction has yet to be seen. But we’re still in very early days. Already, some news outlets are treating the case of Thomas Duncan like last week’s news. They claim that the disease will run its course in the two infected nurses, and then that will be it. You’d be hard-pressed, though, to find any Americans who believe that.
The other tactic of the media and the administration – and this one has some merit – is to remind people about the flu and other diseases that kill thousands each year. Why get worked up about Ebola when we have these other diseases that are already a major problem?
Into the Unknown
The problem is that we don’t yet know what kind of disaster a major Ebola outbreak would cause. Sure, it’s not a grave public threat on the scale of the flu yet, but what about in a year? What about in five years? This could be the kind of thing that dies out by Christmas. But if we treat it like just another small concern, we risk seeing a deadly epidemic of the likes America has never experienced.
The president has given his best impression of a man who believes everything will be all right, but his actions speak louder than words. This weekend, it was announced that we will be militarizing the response in the U.S. The Pentagon is assembling a 30-person Ebola response team to provide aid and support should any new American infections occur. This is on top of the response teams already being developed at the CDC. They wouldn’t be doing these things if there wasn’t cause for concern.
To be certain, this is a political issue for Obama. Some have suggested it could turn into his version of Hurricane Katrina. The CDC has been his FEMA, completely incompetent in its response to tragedy. Obama himself refuses, even against rising pressure, to stop flights from West Africa. He will not, in fact, even consider denying visas to those from infected countries.
Bush’s legacy took a bit hit after the botched response to Katrina, but Obama could go down in history as an all-time failed leader if this Ebola outbreak ravages the country. The only question is, will there be anyone left to criticize him?