[guest post by Dana]
Attempting to quell Americans’ growing concern and fear about an Ebola outbreak here at home, President Obama addressed the issue this morning:
This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need. We have to be guided by the science. We have to remember the basic facts.
First, what we’re seeing now is not an “outbreak” or an “epidemic” of Ebola in America. We’re a nation of more than 300 million people. To date, we’ve seen three cases of Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him … As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.
Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch. It’s not transmitted through the air like the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus. The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms. I’ve met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who’ve treated Ebola patients. I’ve met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office. And I’m fine.
Third, we know how to fight this disease. We know the protocols. And we know that when they’re followed, they work.
The president also addressed the increasing demand to impose a travel ban from the worst-hit countries:
Finally, we can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.
(Of course, it just isn’t possible that putting a temporary hold on issuing visas and instituting a travel ban from West Africa might just benefit Americans more than risking the continued spread of Ebola in our country! And, maybe even keep us safer!)
What one man sees as hysteria another man sees as reasonable caution.