It’s difficult to grasp the reality of overseas disasters that don’t touch us. We didn’t have to worry about fallout from Little Boy in 1945. We DO have to worry about fallout from Fukushima, but for those who think that Uncle Sam has been hiding that from us, there is a far more immediate peril on which our government is strikingly silent.
I refer to the Ebola virus. For decades this wickedly infectious organism has killed Africans in small clusters in remote areas. To date, international agencies such as Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres) have been containing those outbreaks at great personal risk, while the rest of us are free to argue about nonsensical questions such as whether the government should be involved in Health Care.
This outbreak is different. A month ago while the World Health Organization was telling us it was just an Ebola pocket, Doctors Without Borders said it was “uncontained”. There have now been cases in cities such as Monrovia (Liberia) and Conakry (Sierra Leone), and it has killed some very senior medical people.
I watched a panel discuss this outbreak on television. They were very knowledgeable about the challenges the medical community faces combating this disease in Africa, but when someone asked “will it come to the United States”, the question was not answered. It was as if they had been told not to go there.
Today, beneath headlines about the Senate giving $11 billion to the Highway Trust Fund, and other such non-news, CNN answered that question. Two Americans infected by Ebola are being airlifted out of Liberia to the United States. I expected the virus to reach the USA, but I did not expect us to import it voluntarily.
I feel for these patients, who put themselves in harm’s way to help others. I support their right to return home for the best care. But the question has to be asked: if medical experts with full protective gear cannot avoid accidental infections, how wise is it to bring this heinously infectious virus to our country?
The answer is that Ebola is going to come to the United States one way or another. The epidemic is out of control. There’s nothing magic about living in America that protects us from this thing. Better start thinking about what that means to you, your family, your job, and your savings.