Friday, October 17, 2014

Let’s not panic, okay?

I’m not trying to downplay the significance or risk of the Ebola virus that is starting to show traces of cropping up in the United States.

But I also sense that there are some people who are way too eager to panic and predict an epidemic of the virus that can kill. When we start to panic, we look for people to blame for the problem.

AND THAT’S WHEN we as a society become inclined to act stupid. Please people, let’s not be stupid; particularly when there’s potential for illness and fatality.

For the record, the virus was once thought to be a product of the nations of the western portion of the African continent. Some 4,500 people are known to have died from Ebola.

Of course, many of us cared less about this fact. It wasn’t until recent weeks when U.S. citizens who are doctors who were on humanitarian relief efforts in Africa started showing signs of the virus that many of us even gave Ebola a second thought.

Now, we have one person dead, and two nurses infected. One of those nurses had direct contact with the person who died. While another supposedly was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas, and has now been isolated at a medical facility far from either locale. It has people panicking about how easily this virus could spread.

IT HAS HAD some people wondering how long it will be until this spreads beyond Dallas and winds up in Chicago – along with the rest of the country. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide (or so sang Martha and the Vandellas, could that be the new theme song for those inclined to panic?).

I couldn’t help but notice the Chicago Tribune, which reported about how nurses across the Chicago area are skeptical that their hospitals are equipped to deal with Ebola. They’re wondering if the so-called safety equipment isn’t safe enough to protect them from the fluid-spread virus.

Although I have heard reports indicating that the infected nurse with contact might not have been wearing the proper gear.

It also was interesting to see the Chicago Sun-Times report that officials are considering designating Rush University Medical Center as the official treatment center for Ebola.

AS IN ANYBODY anywhere near Chicago who shows signs of the virus and can document that they were in contact with someone who had the virus would wind up at Rush, rather than having them scattered around the dozens of hospitals in the Chicago metro area.

A concentration would reduce the likelihood of more people being exposed.

It was interesting to see President Barack Obama on Wednesday create the image of taking on the issue – he spent a couple of hours meeting with Cabinet members to try to figure out some sort of national strategy for addressing Ebola in this country. On Thursday, he gave authorization for National Guard units to be called into action to serve in west Africa to support U.S. operations that are trying to control the virus.

It also was curious to see the Washington Post report that Obama acknowledges a need to help try to deal with Ebola at its root – meaning the west African region where we once thought the virus was contained.

THAT DOES MAKE sense. But I wonder how long it will be until we hear the ideologues screeching and screaming about how we ought to focus on our own ill, instead of someone else’s.

The grandchildren of the isolationists of old can rant and rage as loudly and strongly as their ancestors. Even when it is that isolationist strain of thought that can cause panic that leads to short-sighted actions.

For now, I plan to try to relax. There isn’t much we can do, other than try to avoid irrational exposure that we probably wouldn’t do anyway. That, and turn down the dial for the mental volume I have set for the rest of the world – including when our own City Council feels compelled to hold (as yet unscheduled) hearings about Ebola virus spread.

Talk about the ultimate in individuals who will want to scream and panic when it is fairly certain they have a clue what they’re talking about!


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