America's Ebola Cure Rate Is Fantastic, But That's Not What Has Governors Worried
Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) and Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) led the way in imposing quarantines on medical staff returning to the United States from the Ebola zone in West Africa. Both governors imposed quarantines against angry opposition from the Obama administration, which seems to be taking the position that theoretical threats should take precedence over actual ones. Other governors have followed suit, with Illinois' Democrat governor and Florida's Republican governor also announcing quarantines. So far, then, the use of mandatory quarantines has bi-partisan support at the governor level.
The Obama administration argues that the quarantines may cause some returning doctors and nurses to avoid the five airports where "enhanced" Ebola screening is being used. It has made similar arguments against travel bans from West Africa by non-citizens -- that the bans will incentivize people to cross borders illegally.
The Obama administration takes the opposite view when it comes to U.S. border security, though, consistently dismissing and ignoring the fact that its behavior and statements create incentives for people to cross into the country illegally.
So far, the five Americans who have contracted Ebola have survived it. The sixth, Dr. Craig Spencer, has received a blood transfusion from an Ebola survivor and is expected to recover. A seventh potential victim, a five-year-old boy, is currently showing symptoms in New York and is being tested. The key to victory has been early diagnosis and aggressive treatment, plus isolation to make sure that one patient infects as few other people as possible.
It's not the prognosis of recovery that has governors and local officials concerned. It is the response that must follow each positive Ebola test, and the strain that individual cases put on hospitals.
When Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola, officials in New York had to retrace every step he had taken since he returned from West Africa, where he was treating Ebola patients and contracted the virus. That is a time-consuming, tense and expensive process, potentially costing hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars per day. People who have had close contact with each Ebola patient must be found and then monitored for symptoms as well. In Spencer's case, his fiancee and two friends have been quarantined. That's just for one victim. An outbreak of just a handful of victims could strain resources just in tracking down others who may have been exposed and monitoring them.
If a state fails to fully track an Ebola victim's movements and outbreak occurs, they will be rightly accused of negligence.
The honor system has not and will not work to stop Ebola. It has already failed. Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who was exposed to Ebola in his native country and then brought it to Dallas, lied on his Liberian exit form and then according to his Dallas nurses lied again about his Ebola exposure during his first visit to the hospital.