It’s been a while since I took a look at important, and not so important “quotable quotes” concerning Ebola issues here and abroad.
In the United States, much has been made of the nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa, Kaci Hickox and her battles with two state governors concerning her quarantine.
Sen. (Dr.) Rand Paul (R-KY) showed the understandable mixed feelings concerning the topic of forced mandatory quarantines. This is after all, the United States, and not North Korea and freedoms are protected and a balancing act does sometimes exist when addressing issues as complicated as this.
Dr. Paul told CNN’s Candi Crowley on her show Sunday, “When we get to the question of quarantine, it’s a tough question, because the libertarian in me is horrified at the idea of indefinitely detaining, or detaining anyone without a trial. One of the basic rights we inherited from the English and we got from common law was the right of habeas corpus, to present the body,” Paul continued. “If the king were detaining you in the Tower of London, or a governor or anybody who is detaining you, you have to have recourse to a lawyer.”
Paul continued, “I think there is a reasonable public concern, saying you shouldn’t be going to the discotheque, you shouldn’t be going to the local bar, you shouldn’t be going to the local school cafeteria,” Paul said. “I think there are reasonable precautions.”
“We have to be careful of people’s civil liberties,” said Paul. “But I’m not saying the government doesn’t have a role in trying to prevent contagion.”
From Maine, nurse Kaci Hickox made an interesting statement during an interview on Meet the Press this morning taking a jab at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “When Gov. Christie stated that it was an abundance of caution, which is his reasoning for putting health care workers in a sort of quarantine for three weeks, it was really an abundance of politics,” she told Chuck Todd. “And I think all of the scientific and medical and public health community agrees with me on that statement.”
Hickox went on to tell host Chuck Todd, “We don’t know … everything in the world. But we know a lot about Ebola,” Hickox said. “We have been researching this disease for 38 years, since its first appearance in Africa. And we know how the infection is transmitted from person to person. And we know that it’s not transmitted from someone who is asymptomatic, as I am and many other aid workers will be when they return.”
Hickox does have her critics and the National Review’s Andrew C. McCarthy is clearly one of them. McCarthy wrote in an Op-Ed Saturday:
As a public-health precaution, it is entirely reasonable for states to impose a 21-day quarantine that (a) reflects the virus’s incubation period according to scientific research and (b) applies regardless of whether the exposed person is manifesting symptoms. The objections to quarantine, rooted in a skewed construction of the Constitution and the make-it-up-as-you-go-along corpus of international “human rights” law, are frivolous. Yet, they have gotten traction, for at least three reasons.
The first, of course, is the president. What an American president thinks is always a big deal, even if — especially if — it is nonsense. On Ebola as on much else, we deal with our citizen-of-the-world president’s apathy — if not antipathy — when it comes to American national interests. Once again, the responsibilities of his office are subordinated to Obama’s post-American ideological agenda, this time by expending our funds, deploying our troops, and gratuitously endangering our homeland to burnish his legacy as an international humanitarian.
A second reason is Kaci Hickox. She is the nurse and global-altruist-turned-domestic-diva who has very publicly opposed the efforts of New Jersey and, now, Maine to quarantine her after her return from working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. On Friday, she found a likeminded judge, Charles C. LaVerdiere, who blithely ordered the quarantine lifted over the objection of the state officials responsible for the security of Maine’s citizens. Third, there is legal commentary, particularly of the libertarian-hedonist stripe, that portrays quarantine confinement as if it were criminal prosecution.
All politics aside…there is a huge crisis in West Africa and although their are reports of improvements in Liberia and Guinea, Ebola is spreading in rural parts of Sierra Leone nine times faster than two months ago. The Africa Governance Initiative (AGI) Chief Executive Nick Thompson said, “The pace of the spread in rural Sierra Leone shows we still have no time to lose.”
Rony Zachariah of Doctors Without Borders echoed the situation in Sierra Leone saying, “The situation is catastrophic. There are several villages and communities that have been basically wiped out. In one of the villages I went to, there were 40 inhabitants and 39 died.”
Zachariah also asked concerning the overwhelmed health care systems in the country–“You have one nurse for 10,000 people and then you lose 10, 11, 12 nurses. How is the health system going to work?”
Lastly, one Purdue University Biology professor says experts appearing in the media who say Ebola can’t go airborne are wrong. David Sanders said, “There’s no evidence that it’s airborne now,” he said. “I’m not trying to scare anybody. The chance of any individual American getting Ebola is practically zero. The only people who are at risk are health care workers who come into direct contact with patients. But scientists discussing this with the media need to be aware of the facts.”
“If we convince the public there’s no chance of it getting in the lung, we’re missing out on preparing for it,” he said, adding that there had never before been an Ebola outbreak this large, either. “Unfortunately, rare events have a habit of happening. We don’t need to panic. But we do need to face the facts.”