Friday, October 31, 2014
Hysteria over the arrival of Ebola in the US has pushed states to impose quarantines on anyone who has worked in health care in West Africa. At least one quarantined nurse is protesting and openly defying the ban on her movement. Commentators have noted that states have a right to quarantine in order to protect their citizens and they have done so since their beginning. Others have noted, however, that a state must have evidence that a quarantine is necessary -- and this is what the nurse is protesting. She has no symptoms of Ebola although she is checking her temperature twice a day to be sure. She says the state has no right to hold her in her house. The state disagrees. It is over-reacting to calm the concern of its citizens. Call it medical "spin". "See what we're doing to guard your health." It takes courage on the part of politicians to work within the limits of science and medicine. They would rather go the easy way and put a ban on anyone who has been near the source of infection. There is less to worry about, and upsetting one citizen is easier than panicking the majority. But, it is narrow-minded and wrong. Yes, there is a chance of Ebola spreading in the US, but it is a vanishingly small one. Other diseases take a greater toll each year -- cancer and heart failure, enteroviruses, etc. Government should be communicating the necessity to remain calm and collected rather than quarantining.