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Ebola, New York & New Jersey
It was reported by US media that the latest doctor to test positive for Ebola reportedly frolicked all over New York - riding the subway, using taxi service, going bowling and dining out. Because Ebola has a very high mortality rate, and because there are still many unknowns - public concern has been high. Therefore, anywhere this doctor visited was likely to suffer financially.
In fact, it was reported that the bowling center was disinfected as a precaution. And by the way, who should really pay for that? This doctor's lax actions caused a business to incur costs because he simply wouldn't stay home - wouldn't wait out the 21 days.
Come on - he'd been treating Ebola patients. Surely he was aware of the 2-21 day incubation window, right? And no way in the world would we treat an Ebola patient, arrive home - and be around cherished loved ones or take any chance of infecting them. But he did and now, it has been reported that at least three people who were closest to him are now being monitored for Ebola symptoms.
In addition, his actions spurred New York and New Jersey to take quarantine measures - as obviously, returning medical personnel from the Ebola-stricken areas, as well as a few medical personnel who have treated Ebola patients in the United States simply aren't appropriately self-monitoring.
In addition, some of the medical team that treated Liberian patient Mr. Duncan traveled hundreds of miles on a plane - and on a cruise ship, creating all sorts of grief for the airline, the cruise ship, and several businesses where one nurse had visited.
And the latest upset involves this nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. Based on reports, she's not happy about the quarantine policy and complaints abound.
The nurse who returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone exhibited a fever upon her return, and thus was placed under strict quarantine. It has been reported that she is frustrated over the new quarantine policies of New York and New Jersey. Her resistance is understandable - but the need for the quarantine policy is equally understandable.
If the nurse would return to her home and stay there ALONE, and properly self-monitor herself - and have any pets removed from her home before returning, that would be one thing. On the flip-side, let's say that someone in her situation does all of this, yet exhibits symptoms of Ebola within the 21 day period.
Now we have an entirely new ball game involving massive amount of money, massive amounts of work.
The home or apartment would have to be decontaminated - and that means stripping the place. In the first Ebola case in Dallas, the apartment was stripped clean - from food to carpeting.
Next, we have the issue of what to do with the potentially-contaminated materials. No one wants to accept them. And the cost of dealing with the decontamination alone is astronomical. In Dallas, the cost for decontaminating the apartment where Mr. Duncan stayed was projected to run over $100,000.
At some point, there will be a question of who is going to pay for this?
Then there are other questions that remain unanswered. We've been assured by government agencies and politicians that Ebola is difficult to catch - but can be active for days when wet - such as in vomit. So, why the decontamination expense? Why not just...prohibit anyone from entering the home for x-amount of time?
Could it be that self-monitoring doesn't work because the individual feels normal - so they just can't believe that they are at risk for getting Ebola? It does hit suddenly - fast and furious when it strikes.
We feel that in most of the cases, the individual's personal desires overrode logic. They wanted to do things in their personal life so badly that they forged forward.
It seems obvious that they didn't give much thought to the aftermath of their actions should they succumb to Ebola - that the businesses they visited could be damaged financially - or go out of business due to public fear. Perhaps that public fear is a bit bloated, but given the mortality rate of Ebola - that fear is understandable.
Mortality rate ranges from 50% to 90% which means that when an individual contracts Ebola they have as little as a one in two chance of dying or as high as a one in ten chance of surviving. The odds aren't good, even with the most advanced care. Much depends upon how early Ebola is detected, in addition to treatment and the patient's level of immunity.
So, what would make self-quarantining work? How about being obligated to pay for damages that such behavior causes? This means paying for the decontamination incurred by airlines, cruise ships and businesses. How about being obligated to pay salaries of people that you exposed who must now be quarantined for three weeks?
Money has a way of forcing most of us to think logically rather than irrationally. To think reasonably. The bowling alley and bridal shop that was decontaminated - the loss of customers due to public concern, who is going to pay for that? The businesses, of course - because self-quarantining and self-monitoring don't work where Ebola is concerned.
We feel that there is currently something out of whack with the way this situation is being thought about. On one hand we have medical personnel heading off to obvious danger, wanting to help those in need - and at great risk to their own life. Not many of us would be willing to do that, even in the best of protective gear.
On the other hand, we have medical professionals returning - who aren't thinking about the dangers and health risks that THEY could pose to others should they start to show Ebola symptoms.
So the 'feeling for humanity has been misplaced, it seems. We need to find a way to make people realize that just like the people in Ebola-stricken areas who infect those around them, they could do the same. The goal has to be two-fold - curing Ebola patients and stopping the outbreak.
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