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posted by LaminatorX on Saturday October 11 2014, @09:39AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the this-porage-is-just-right dept.

Russell Berman writes in the Atlantic that the Obama administration is trying to navigate a tricky course: Can officials increase public vigilance about the deadly virus without inciting a panic? "Ebola is scary. It's a deadly disease. But we know how to stop it," says Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC director speaking "calmly and clearly, sticking to an even pitch and avoiding the familiar political image of the whip-smart fast-talker." International groups wanted the US to step in sooner to help fight the outbreak in west Africa, while more recently some Republicans have called on the administration to ban travel from the most affected countries but Frieden and other officials say such a move would be counterproductive, citing lessons learned from the SARS outbreak a decade ago. "The SARS outbreak cost the world more than $40 billion, but it wasn't to control the outbreak," says Frieden. "Those were costs from unnecessary and ineffective travel restrictions and trade changes that could have been avoided." The government announced Wednesday that it was stepping up protective measures at five airports, where authorities will screen travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea with targeted questions and fever checks, an action, officials acknowledge that was taken not only to stop the spread of the disease but simply to make people feel safer. According to Berman the message, it seems to be, is this: Be afraid of Ebola. Just not too afraid.

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  • (Score: 1) by Uncle Bob on Saturday October 11 2014, @10:41AM

    by Uncle Bob (4636) on Saturday October 11 2014, @10:41AM (#104724)

    "Those were costs from unnecessary and ineffective travel restrictions and trade changes that could have been avoided."

    Human resources are cheap, the spice must flow!

    • (Score: 1) by schad on Saturday October 11 2014, @05:31PM

      by schad (2398) on Saturday October 11 2014, @05:31PM (#104821)

      It's a fair point, but many of the countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak are very poor. It wouldn't take much to mess up their already-fragile economies and crush whatever middle class is trying to come into existence. That could ultimately result in more death and human suffering than Ebola alone ever could.

      Also -- and this is more of an abstract thing -- if we close our borders then not only does it get harder for aid workers to get to the affected countries to help, but it also makes the problem less visible. If you're the sort of person who believes that we have an obligation to help those countries -- for whatever reason -- then closing our borders might be counterproductive.

      With that said, though, does anyone actually believe the the TSA will be able to keep people with Ebola out of the country? That's one of those moves that's meant to inspire confidence but has the exact opposite effect. It literally would have been better for them to do nothing.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @06:37PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @06:37PM (#104836)

        I head this a lot but I don't understand it. Why exactly would flight restrictions stop the flow of aid/aid workers? When you stop the air travel to and from those countries you are only stopping the commercial flights. Have the military ship them in on military flights. Trust me the Air Force is good at moving personnel/supplies.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12 2014, @12:35AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 12 2014, @12:35AM (#104915)

          > Trust me the Air Force is good at moving personnel/supplies.

          But they are shit at executing brand new and untested processes, and that's exactly what you are proposing they do.

      • (Score: 1) by Uncle Bob on Sunday October 12 2014, @11:34AM

        by Uncle Bob (4636) on Sunday October 12 2014, @11:34AM (#105028)

        Actually that was simply what my brain translated that statement to when I read it.

        I agree with the current way it being handled. I was saddened a few months back when the only people who cared were some small charities. I wish the UN had the ability to send in MASH units and supplies to regions in crisis. This could have been handled much better.

  • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Saturday October 11 2014, @12:06PM

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Saturday October 11 2014, @12:06PM (#104737)

    Yesterday at work, a black colleague of mine offered his hand to say hello to a workmate, and the latter declined to shake it. Taken aback, the former said "what the hell man?" and the latter replied: "I know you regularly see friends from Africa, so I'd rather avoid touching you for the time being - no offense." We were all a bit shocked really...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by hemocyanin on Saturday October 11 2014, @02:13PM

      by hemocyanin (186) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 11 2014, @02:13PM (#104767) Journal

      Is it true? Does he regularly see people traveling from Africa? If so, are they from affected regions? If the answer to both questions is "yes" then I don't find the response shocking -- there is a symptom free period where a person is contagious and if the person in the US was exposed to a person from Africa who was exposed to the virus, well, that's exactly how diseases spread and propagate.

      • (Score: 2) by velex on Saturday October 11 2014, @02:51PM

        by velex (2068) on Saturday October 11 2014, @02:51PM (#104780) Journal

        However, I wouldn't be surprised to see this as a manifestation of racism. Your point is entirely valid. No matter what his skin color, if he's traveling to regions of Africa that are experiencing the outbreak, he is a risk. Yet, the racism becomes apparent because he would need to be experiencing symptoms to be an infection risk.

        I have to admit, I'm having a bit of schadenfreude about this (I'll self-flagellate in a closet later).

        Also, foreword to what I'm about to write: AIDS at this point primarily affects Africans.

        Here I am, a sweet transvestite from Transsexual, Transylvania, and I don't have a drop of HIV in my body.

        It goes to prove that diagnosis by stereotype is an ineffective method of risk management.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @03:30PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @03:30PM (#104792)

          You wrote a comment that directly contradicts a statement made my the person you are replying to. Why did you not provide a source?

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @04:52PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @04:52PM (#104807)

            Are you referring to, "there is a symptom free period where a person is contagious?"

            Because if that is what you are unhappy about, then let me tell you that hemocyanin is telling a "true lie."

            It is true that there is such a period. But it is not BEFORE symptoms manifest. It is only after you go through the period of getting deathly ill and then recover. [theguardian.com] After they survive the infection, some people continue to be contagious for a few weeks. But not in the same way they are contagious while they have symptoms, so far its only been found in semen.

            Since the black guy had obviously not come down with and survived an ebola infection, he's not a risk for shaking hands or having sex.

        • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Saturday October 11 2014, @05:06PM

          by Gaaark (41) on Saturday October 11 2014, @05:06PM (#104813) Journal

          Hey! Do you know how to Madison?

          --
          --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @05:18PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @05:18PM (#104816)
      Try the traditional chinese/indian non-contact greetings for a change. We didn't get to 1 billion+ each by shaking hands or kissing everybody.
      • (Score: 2) by Wootery on Sunday October 12 2014, @01:20PM

        by Wootery (2341) on Sunday October 12 2014, @01:20PM (#105043)

        We didn't get to 1 billion+ each by shaking hands or kissing everybody.

        That's so stupid it's not even funny. I sincerely hope you're a troll, not a moron.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @03:18PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 11 2014, @03:18PM (#104786)

    A lot of these big numbers are probably funny money. Airplane trips cancelled along with the hotel reservations, trade deals that were nixed, etc. Maybe the consumers and businesses came up with other plans, which involved alternative deals that weren't originally in play?

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by khallow on Saturday October 11 2014, @08:15PM

    by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Saturday October 11 2014, @08:15PM (#104861) Journal
    One of the things I'm moderately concerned about are attempts to present the appearance of normalcy while in the process causing the disease to spread further. For example, I'm reminded of a story [pbs.org] of the 1918 influenza epidemic. Apparently, the city of Philadelphia decided to hold a parade despite the presence of influenza with dire consequences:

    Misinformation, and perhaps wishful thinking, added fuel to the influenza’s fire. While the Bureau of Health was issuing directives concerning public coughing, sneezing, and spitting, Dr. A.A. Cairns and Wilmer Krusen of the Department of Health and Charities were assuring the public that the illness would not spread beyond military personnel. In late September, Dr. Paul Lewis, director of the Philips Institute of Philadelphia, aroused great hope by declaring that he had identified the cause of this influenza: Pfeiffer’s bacillus. The confidence of the medical community quickly spilled over into the general population — with dire consequences.

    On September 28, 200,000 people gathered for a fourth Liberty Loan Drive. Funding the war effort and showing one’s patriotic colors took precedence over concern for public health. Just days after the parade, 635 new cases of influenza were reported. Two days later, the city was forced to admit that epidemic conditions did indeed exist. Churches, schools, and theaters were ordered closed, along with all places of “public amusement.” Members of the press condemned the closings as a violation of common sense and personal freedom. Meanwhile, the ranks of the sick and dying continued to grow. By mid-October, their numbers ran into the hundreds of thousands. Hospitals quickly reached capacity. Church parish houses and state armories doubled as shelters for the sick.

    Just as medical facilities were pushed to the brink, so too were medical personnel. Able-bodied doctors were summoned from retirement, while novice medical students were plucked from their studies to tend to the sick. Often, there was little they could do; by the third week in October the death toll in Philadelphia attributed to influenza had soared to over 4,500.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by FatPhil on Saturday October 11 2014, @09:56PM

    by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Saturday October 11 2014, @09:56PM (#104880) Homepage
    Using 'yanks', as 'americans' didn't fit in the subject due to crazy site restrictions, no offence intended. (This time ;-) )

    It'll only spread within the country once it's got inside the country. It's far easier to manage the borders than it is the entire interior. However, at the moment, they appear to think that signing a piece of paper saying "I'm not infected, honest" is a workable protection mechanism. Therefore, they will fail again.
    --
    I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.
    • (Score: 2) by FatPhil on Monday October 13 2014, @07:56AM

      by FatPhil (863) <reversethis-{if.fdsa} {ta} {tnelyos-cp}> on Monday October 13 2014, @07:56AM (#105453) Homepage
      The funny thing is that within a day of posting my prediction comes the first story of their failure, down in Texas. A "breach of protocol", they think, occured, but they aren't even sure what protocol has been breached yet. However, sending a guy with a fever who's just come over from west Africa home with a few pills might be considered a bit of a fuck-up in early october 2014. Well done backward US health-care system, I'm glad to see you didn't let me down.

      Oh - and will the "there are way bigger killers" poster on SN who was saying that there's nothing to be worried about regarding this current outbreak, when the death toll was measured in hundreds, and off whom I asked for a prediction of what the death-toll would top out at, please actually like to answer that question? Even now I'm interested why he thinks the outbreak isn't worth worrying about, and I'll let him reevaluate his estimate.
      --
      I know I'm God, because every time I pray to him, I find I'm talking to myself.