Having been burned to the ground by the CDC’s lack of candor, duplicity, and incompetence, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Christ Christie in joining Texas Governor Rick Perry and Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal in showing leadership that no political or health care leader in the federal government has shown. (UPDATE: I wrote this around 4pm yesterday. This was before Cuomo folded like a cheap suit under pressure from Obama and I saw the announcement that Illinois had joined the quarantine program.)
Reacting to the laissez faire attitude Ebola by a medical doctor who should have known better, Cuomo and Christie have enacted quarantine procedures for some travelers from countries with Ebola outbreaks:
The governors of New Jersey and New York said Friday they are ordering a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all doctors and other travelers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa.
The move came after a New York City doctor who returned to the U.S. a week ago from treating Ebola victims in Guinea was diagnosed with the lethal disease.
Many New Yorkers and others were dismayed to learn that in the week before he was hospitalized, Dr. Craig Spencer rode the subway, took a cab, went bowling, visited a coffee shop and ate at a restaurant.
Predictably, the people who have largely created the near panic atmosphere over Ebola are against the quarantine :
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday the mandatory quarantine for health workers returning to the United States from Ebola-stricken regions of West Africa is not “based on scientific data.”
“As a scientist and as a health person, if I were asked, I would not have recommended that,” Fauci said Sunday morning on ABC’s “This Week.”
In light of the Spencer case, it is hard to see why this is even an item of contention. Ever since some obscure Greek composed a code for physicians the first principle of medicine has been “do no harm.” In response, Governor Chrisite said:
Christie defended his decision and those of the other states on “Fox News Sunday.” He pointed to experience with an NBC News crew that broke a voluntary self-quaratine after one of its cameramen came down with the virus.
“I have great respect for Dr. Fauci, but what he’s counting on is a voluntary system with folks who may or may not comply. We had this situation in New Jersey, Chris, as you know with the NBC News crew that said they were going to self-quarantine and then two days later they were out picking up takeout food in Princeton and walking around the streets of Princeton,” Christie said.
“I mean the fact of the matter is that I don’t believe that when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system. This is government’s job. If anything else, the government’s job is to protect the safety and health of our citizens. And so, we’ve taken this action and I absolutely have no second thoughts about it.”
What the actions of CDC Director Tom Frieden and the comments of Dr. Fauci underscore is the immense sense of self importance and entitlement in the public health community which is combined with a total disdain for the fears of the average citizen, fears which, in the main, have been caused by their own incompetence. If you want an example of this you have to look no further than an op-ed in the Dallas News by a nurse named Kaci Hickox:
I am a nurse who has just returned to the U.S. after working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone – an Ebola-affected country. I have been quarantined in New Jersey. This is not a situation I would wish on anyone, and I am scared for those who will follow me.
I am scared about how health care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.
She is placed in quarantine and is not happy. She ends her piece by saying:
The epidemic continues to ravage West Africa. Recently, the World Health Organization announced that as many as 15,000 people have died from Ebola. We need more health care workers to help fight the epidemic in West Africa. The U.S. must treat returning health care workers with dignity and humanity.
Dignity and humanity, unnoticed by Hickox’s overweening sense of entitlement, work both ways. Dignity and humanity demand that you take whatever steps are necessary to ensure you don’t accidentally expose other people to a lethal disease. Dignity and humanity require that you realize you are not entitled to endanger others, as did NBC’s Dr. Nancy Snyderman, because you feel inconvenienced.
Not to put too fine a point on it, but both CDC and NIH have adopted the view that they, not elected officials, govern the nation and that any act that contradicts them is lèse majesté. And they are quite willing to kill as many people as it takes to prove their point.
This situation has been brought on by the failure of the federal government to act. A travel ban, such as that enacted by virtually all African nations and Air France and British Airways would have eliminated the treat from all but the most determined lawbreaker. The quarantine imposed by New York and New Jersey could be easily obviated by the organizations, specifically MSF, conducting its own quarantine period in a designated location before their staff returns home. But this would all require the public health mafia to use common sense. It was clearly a bridge too far.