On Monday, a man in New York City who had recently been in West Africa and came home experiencing Ebola-type symptoms was tested for the deadly virus. Late yesterday evening, the New York City Dept. of Health and Mental Hygiene said in a statement, “After consultation with CDC and Mount Sinai, the Health Department has concluded that the patient is unlikely to have Ebola. Specimens are being tested for common causes of illness and to definitively exclude Ebola.”
This should be a sigh of relief for many, after the two American patients were brought to the united states after being diagnosed with the virus are showing significant improvements after receiving an experimental serum, according to The Washington Post.
But, then, there is the… well, strange news bites that are leaking into the news. For instance:
1.) CNN’s chief medical correspondent, Sanjay Gupta, spoke on CNN’s program, Wolf Blitzer, about SIX other patients that are secretly (?) being tested for the virus in New York City. (LINK here)
2.) After over a week of hearing there is zero real treatment for the Ebola virus, we now learn that there is a so-called “secret serum” that is being used on patients – why is it only being used on Americans? (Link HERE) With the death toll in Africa soaring to over 1,000, why is the serum not being used there?
3.) President Obama has signed an executive order to quarantine (a vague statement at best) people who show signs of acute respiratory problems… not just Ebola symptoms (link HERE)
But, really, as much as all of this IS the point – it also isn’t at all. Many groups are wondering if the Ebola outbreak is a media distraction from some of the other atrocities happening in the world. Or, is it a classic example of when one child is kidnapped it receives national and international attention while thousands of others do not? With major crisis occurring with Russia, the middle east, and the Israeli-Gaza conflict raging, many are wondering if Ebola is just hype to draw attention away from the much, much bigger problems?
The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle, which makes us ask – what would an Ebola outbreak in one of the most populous cities on Earth mean for the rest of us?
At first glance, the slick answers that the government pumps out quite regularly seem innocent:
1) Identify the outbreak
2.) Isolate the patients
3.) Track down other patients
4.) Keep patients quarantined until they are “clear”
But, if you look into the verbiage just a bit closer, combined with Obama’s recent executive order to “quarantine” all people with “respiratory symptoms”, the picture could become quite dark quickly. Let’s re-examine those four bullet points with a more critical mind:
1.) Identify the outbreak: taking our example of NYC, this is pretty straightforward – we know where the outbreak is, and it is, presumably, Ebola. Fair enough.
2.) This is where things get a bit dodgy – Ebola spreads fast, and with a city so crammed with people as New York City, it would presumably travel quickly. In a city with a population of almost 9 million, the thought of how many could be infected in a relatively short amount of time is scary to think about.
3.) Here is where things get even more unsettling: “track down other patients”. This is worded so vaguely by the health organizations that, let’s face it – that could mean anyone, and not just in NYC. Have you recently traveled to NYC to see a show, take in the sites, etc? Does that make you a target? Who knows, but it is worth further digging.
4.) Finally, our favorite – keep patients quarantined until they are “clear”. Once the hospitals are full, where do the rest go? Where do any of us go?
What is startling is that if this breaks in NYC, it’s going to spread across the country, and eventually world, fairly quickly. What happens then?
Ah, but then we are brought back to our original point: is this a distraction from what is no longer brewing, but full on BOILING across the rest of the world that directly affects all of us? There are many signs pointing to that possibility. Ebola is scary, and we understand there are many, many families being affected by this, but… we also need to use our rational minds here and not let this distract us from the brewing issues across the globe.
So, we want you to sound off: hype or reality or somewhere in between? Let us know what your thoughts are… and stay safe.
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