O's different rules for visitors, military, civilians....
The Pentagon has placed soldiers returning from West Africa in quarantine, though the administration opposes a visa ban for visitors and forces state governors to release returnees upon their return.
Monday the CDC issued new Ebola rules, geared to estimated risk level: "high-risk" people will be put in isolation; they will be banned from commercial airline flights, but allowed some public activities, such as jogging. Those classified at "some-risk" will be quarantined at home for 21 days. Added detail based upon case by case exposure will be considered in applying the new rules. Virginia & Maryland have announced Ebola monitoring rules.
A new study by the UK's Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) finds that the Zaire strain of Ebola (one of five currently infecting people) can survive 50 days--NOT a misprint--on cold glass surfaces.
Meanwhile, ex-Bush 43 White House aide Marc Thiessen warns of a possible Ebola replay of Bush's June 2001 (pre-9/11) "Dark Winter" exercise that simulated smallpox terror attacks in Oklahoma City, Philadelphia & Atlanta shopping malls. Thiessen describes what happened as the exercise unfolded:
In the first few days, 1,000 people are infected and 300 die. According to the exercise, “Most hospitals report grossly inadequate supplies and insufficient isolation rooms” (sound familiar?). Soon “Increasingly anxious crowds mob vaccination clinics,” and police and National Guard units are called in to suppress violence. The governor of Oklahoma closes all schools and cancels all public gatherings. Thanks to reluctance of drivers to make deliveries to affected areas, there are food shortages and panic buying. The attorney general prepares options for imposing martial law, including “prohibition of free assembly, a national travel ban, quarantine of certain areas, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus [i.e arrest without due process], and/or military trials in the event the court system becomes dysfunctional.” The unfolding chaos is documented in mock news broadcasts.
After 13 days, 16,000 smallpox cases have been reported in 25 states and 1,000 people have died. Vaccine supplies have been depleted. Canada and Mexico have closed their borders to the United States. It has become logistically impossible to identify and isolate smallpox victims and their contacts to prevent the disease from spreading. Trading on the stock exchanged is suspended. International commerce grinds to a halt. No country in the world will allow flights originating in or transiting through the United States to land. States have closed their borders with other states. There are riots and looting throughout the country.
After 25 days, the number of cases has risen to 30,000, with 10,000 expected to die, and the National Security Council is advised that, absent large scale and successful vaccination programs, the epidemic “could conceivably comprise as many as 3,000,000 cases of smallpox and lead to 1,000,000 deaths.”
Senior FPRI fellow John Haynes offers a caution to those who assure us that Ebola cannot be weaponized. Alas, "not easy" is hardly a synonym for "impossible." Haynes concludes:
To conclude, there is a clear danger posed by the potential to weaponize Ebola-related biohazardous material, especially given the large volume of it produced by a single infected patient. It is a cause for vigilance, however, not panic. That being said, the actual or credibly claimed possession of Ebola-infected biohazardous material by a known malefactor would have an obvious and potentially severe disruptive effect, let alone the destructive effect on a target human population were a malefactor successfully to disperse aerosolized Ebola virus. The only way to preclude potential malefactors from coming into actual possession of such material, or from making a credible claim to have done so, is to institute and execute scrupulous methods to control and dispose of these materials. As Camus wrote, doing nothing is not an option:
“A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore, we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away, and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away.”
His warning should be taken with utmost seriousness. Given the immense burden a small group of Ebola patients can impose, a truly large-scale outbreak could generate: (1) an exponential growth in contagious cases that simply outruns the arithmetic growth of our health care system to trace mushrooming contacts; (2) mortal contagion spreading amongst a severely limited cadre of fully-qualified, fully-protected caregivers; and (3) serial mountains of lethally infected waste in various forms (including contaminated materials).
Bottom Line. The administration--and to be fair, its critics as well--are all playing catch-up with a virulent pathogen that knows neither mercy nor restraint. As Team Obama is in the driver's seat--ask Gov. Cuomo--the president and his Ebola players had better get their containment act together ASAP.
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