Ebola? We don't need no stinkin' Ebola

Sunday’s blog about Ebola being treated at the Texas governor’s mansion drew some scary comments.  I guess that’s only fitting, Ebola’s a scary thing.

The focus of the emails fell into three main categories.  One was my frivolous treatment of Ebola in general, while the other two categories concerned my irreverent and/or sarcastic comments about Governor Perry and Texas Senator Ted Cruz.

I have a kid who works in the emergency room that serves as O’hare’s dumping ground.  They regularly get patients fresh off flights from Africa.  That’s serious and I worry about it.  I was concerned about it before Ebola and I don’t think Ebola is the main threat.

Estimates for deaths associated with seasonal flu range from 3,000 to 49,000.  The 1918 influenza pandemic-also known as the “Spanish Flu”- killed between 20 and 40 million people worldwide.  It helps to keep things in perspective.

I was accused of being a little glib about the subject of Texas getting wiped out by Ebola, but it was meant satirically.  I wish only good things for my Lone Star brothers and sisters.

As of this writing, though there is no Ebola epidemic in America.  Only two people have ever contracted Ebola in America, and they are both nurses who attended Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian citizen who arrived in Texas having already been infected.

While Duncan died, the two nurses, Amber Vinson and Nina Pham are being treated at specially equipped facilities in Atlanta and Maryland, respectively.  Both are doing well and Pham’s dog has been pronounced Ebola free.

Freelance cameraman, Ashoka Mukpo released from a Nebraska facility on Tuesday, was also pronounced Ebola free.  You may remember Mukpo coming down with Ebola while working with an NBC news team in Liberia.

The quarantine period for friends and relatives of Thomas Eric Duncan has ended and the quarantine period for hospital staff exposed to Duncan will end in about 10 days.

Any comments I made about Rick Perry were made in jest.  He’s a likeable guy who I haven’t been able to take seriously since the “oops incident.”   I think he tries to be the tough-guy Texan, but it’s hard to tell if his heart is really in it.

Governor Perry strikes me as a decent guy who gets too much stage direction from his handlers.

Ted Cruz is another story.  He’s a pretty smart guy, but he’s a bit of an asshole.  As one of the voices of the Tea Party, he politicizes every issue and uses each of them as a platform from which to chant the same old, same old.  Maybe he’s the one who’s not taking Ebola seriously.

Cruz’s two main talking points last week were that President Obama should’ve appointed a doctor as Ebola Czar and that we should cut off flights from western Africa.  We’ll get back to that in a minute.

First, I need someone to explain to me why we need an Ebola Czar.

Remember when I said just eight paragraphs ago that there is no Ebola epidemic in America?  Since when do we appoint a czar to oversee something that’s affected only two people?

40,000 people are going to die in traffic accidents this year.  Statistically, you have a greater chance of getting killed in a car crash or dying of pneumonia than you do getting Ebola.

I would like to point out at this time that we already have a position available for a doctor to be in charge of such things as the health of America.  That position is called the Surgeon General and President Obama nominated Dr. Vivek H. Murthy to fill that position.

Dr. Murthy did his undergrad at Harvard and achieved both an MBA and an MD from Yale.  He is a doctor at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston and an instructor at Harvard Medical School.

Dr. Murthy is a leader in H.I.V. prevention and AIDS education in both the United States and India. In 1995, he helped found Visions, a nonprofit AIDS and H.I.V. education group, and has been both its president and its chairman of the board.

I know, slacker, right?

In its infinite wisdom, the Senate has threatened to block the confirmation of Dr. Murthy.  “Why?” you ask.  I’m glad you asked.

Dr. Murthy’s opposition to wackos getting their hands on guns has run afoul of the National Rifle Association.  Obviously, what’s good-or bad-for the National Rifle Association is, likewise good-or bad-for the Republican Party.

This, however is bi-partisan bullshit.  As many as ten Democrats running in conservative states have said they will be unable to support Dr. Murthy’s confirmation.  If Murthy doesn’t show up for his confirmation hearings with an AR-15 slung over his shoulder and an NRA cap on his head, he’s done.

A further stumbling block for Dr. Murthy is the fact that he’s Indian.  From India, not a reservation.  I think he’s actually darker-skinned than the President and that certainly isn’t helping his case.

On her State of the Union show on Sunday, Candy Crowley got a chance to ask Senator Cruz about the Ebola “crisis” facing America.  See it here  If Cruz’s answers to Crowley’s questions scare the pants off you, that’s exactly what they were meant to do.

The real problem, not mentioned by Cruz is that federal funding, curtailed by the Republicans has allowed for the preparation of only NINE hospital beds in the entire country available for the treatment of Ebola-type diseases.   They’re referred to as containment units and the CDC says they can probably expand that number to nineteen, if necessary.

With Ashoka Mukpo out of the bed in Nebraska yesterday, that leaves six infectious disease specific beds available in the country in the event of an Ebola breakout.  That number could be as high as sixteen, though.  For the whole country.

Major hospitals around the country have been gearing up, but it’s a bit like jumping out of an airplane and trying to read a parachute manual on the way down.

Crowley went on to ask Cruz why he insists on the travel ban when health officials have said that banning travel from Africa would make the problem worse, not better.  There’s no non-stop flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the U.S., but a travel ban would make it more difficult to track contacts from those countries.

Nigeria and Senegal have been pronounce Ebola free.

Cruz said that he doesn’t trust the doctors, that they were pawns of the government.  This from the man who said the President’s appointee for Ebola Czar should have been a doctor.  I know, I don’t get it, either.

Anyway, I have to call my doctor now and find out if he’s got an NRA card.

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