Kaci Hickox was mad as hops – she’d gotten off the plane in Newark, been hustled straight into quarantine, and three days later she was still in quarantine only by then she’d hired a lawyer to sue Governor Chris Christie.
A few days before Ms. Hickox flew from Sierra Leone to Newark, a doctor, who’d come home to New York after treating Ebola patients in Guinea, came down with Ebola – and Governors Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie promptly ordered medical workers returning from West Africa to be quarantined.
Ms. Hichox landed in Newark about an hour later. And, by nightfall, the Obama Administration was criticizing Cuomo and Christie for the quarantines.
Back in 1952 there were 57,000 cases of polio: 3,000 people died and another 21,000 were paralyzed and we declared a war on polio. In 1955, Jonas Salk invented the Salk vaccine and in 1961 there were 161 cases of polio.
Now we need to declare war on Ebola – instead of denouncing quarantines.
A person gets the Ebola virus by coming in contact with a sick person. The virus then incubates for up to 3 weeks and at some point, during that time, the person starts showing symptoms of the disease. From the moment that happens, anyone who comes in contact with them can also be infected.
According to the Administration that’s not a problem because, as soon as someone shows symptoms, they’ll voluntarily check into a hospital. But that didn’t happen when a nurse with a fever, who’d treated an Ebola patient, boarded an airplane and flew to Cleveland – with the CDC’s approval.
And it didn’t happen with the doctor in New York City – according to the officials, after the first symptoms appeared he spent the evening in a bowling alley.
Maybe it’s unlikely someone who’s had contact with an Ebola patient will infect other people, but quarantining them for 21 days avoids that risk which is what Governor Christie decided to do.
Quarantines won’t cure Ebola but they can slow it down and give the next Jonas Salk time to find a vaccine.