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(c) 2016 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Ebola Policies Made in Panic Cause More Damage

With good reason, Americans are deeply confused about the risks of Ebola. It is a frightening disease, made more so by dueling theories about how best to deal with people arriving from West Africa and by wildly different messages — based partly on erroneous information given out by New York City officials — about whether the doctor who returned to New York from treating patients in Guinea and came down with the disease was or was not a danger to others when he moved around the city.
To make matters worse, two ambitious governors — Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York — fed panic by imposing a new policy of mandatory quarantines for all health care workers returning from the Ebola-stricken countries of West Africa through John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports. There is absolutely no public health justification for mandatory quarantines.
It’s not surprising that they have started to adjust their earlier positions, which seemed politically motivated, as they have come under a barrage of criticism from public health experts for their dangerous overreaction. They now say they will allow health care workers to be confined to their own homes, where they will be checked twice a day by public health officials.
Lost in this grandstanding was one essential point. The danger to the public in New York in the case of Dr. Craig Spencer, who had worked in Guinea for Doctors Without Borders, was close to nonexistent....
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