The PJ Tatler

NIH Official: 'The System Worked' on Ebola

I think it’s pretty obvious by now that everyone in the executive branch who is going to go before the media and talk about Ebola has been instructed to deliver nothing but happy-talk pronouncements and soothing bromides about how the government has everything under control.

The confidence may or may not be justified. But the infection of a second American in Texas wasn’t supposed to happen. The unidentified health care worker who was infected with the Ebola virus took every precaution a modern 21st century health care system could take. And yet the virus found a way.

So it is ridiculous for a representative of the National Institutes of Health to go on camera and say something silly like this:

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said on Sunday the system put into place to slow the spread of Ebola transmission in the United States was working.

“The system worked,” Fauci said on ABC’s “This Week.”

On Sunday, officials in Texas announced that a second person in Dallas had tested positive for the deadly virus — a health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week.

“She was on voluntary self-monitoring,” he said about the latest victim. “She found she got infected, and she immediately did what she was supposed to have done.”

“So even in this troublesome situation, the system is working,” Fauci said.

Speaking on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Fauci argued against shutting down international travel from Africa, saying it could actually do more harm than good

First of all, if the system “worked,” we wouldn’t have another case of Ebola. The protocols set up to prevent transmission of the disease failed. “Failed” is not the same as working. In fact, outside of Washington, “failed” means “not working,” so who is this jamoke trying to kid?

Secondly, we don’t truly know if the system “worked” or not. How many others might the health care worker have infected? She thinks she exposed only one other person. That’s comforting, if true. But voluntary self-monitoring is fine — until the self-monitor is infected. Then what?

Third, the CDC director informs us that those vaunted, fool-proof protocols turned out to have been defeated by human error:

The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a “breach of protocol” caused a health care worker at a Dallas hospital to preliminarily test positive for Ebola.

The health care worker, a female nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, had “extensive contact” on multiple occasions with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., who died last week, Dr. Tom Frieden said in a press conference Sunday.

If the preliminary diagnosis is confirmed, it would be the first known case of the disease being contracted or transmitted in the U.S.

Frieden said confirmatory testing is under way and will be completed later Sunday.

“We are assessing her possible contacts from the moment she discovered symptoms,” Frieden said, adding that the nurse believes she had contact with only one person after becoming infected.

Frieden said the preliminary test indicates the levels of the virus are low in the nurse’s system.

He said the CDC is evaluating other health care workers who may have had the same breach of protocol as the nurse.

This is the same hospital that examined Thomas Duncan and determined that all he needed to get better were some antibiotics and a good long rest in his own bed at home. Sounds like a breach of protocol there too. Did not the CDC warn every hospital in America to be on the lookout for the symptoms of the virus? And did they not fail spectacularly?

And this is one hospital. For all we know, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital will turn out to be the gold standard in following Ebola protocols.

The government is not taking this crisis seriously enough. In their desire to calm the public, not offend black Africans by cutting off air travel, and wanting to give the appearance of competence, they’re blowing it.

It’s one thing to spin the latest unemployment numbers. But giving political-like spin to information about Ebola is unconscionable and dangerous. I’d recommend someone in Washington give the American people straight talk about the virus, but there’s nobody credible enough — Democrat or Republican — to be believed.