On Monday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Thomas Frieden announced a new policy on health care workers returning from Ebola-plagued West Africa.
Parroting President Obama’s Saturday radio address, Frieden cautioned that Americans must be “guided by the science,” not fear.
Sorry. The Obama administration’s half-way approach is based on political correctness. It ignores the science.
According to Frieden, every day about five health care workers fly back from West Africa to the U.S., landing at airports in Chicago, Newark, Atlanta, New York’s JFK, or Dulles outside Washington, D.C.
For months, the CDC did almost nothing to prevent a returning doctor or nurse from inadvertently spreading the disease here.
On Thursday Dr. Craig Spencer, who had returned from a stint at Doctors Without Borders in Guinea on October 17, was rushed into isolation at New York city’s Bellevue Hospital with Ebola. Before his diagnosis, Spencer took subways, went bowling and dined out.
Authorities scrambled to identify his contacts. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican, and Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, jointly announced on Sunday that health care workers landing at area airports after treating Ebola patients would have to undergo 21 days isolation. Governors of Florida and Illinois announced they would be devising policies as well.
By Monday, Thomas Frieden had to respond to the spectacle of governors concocting isolation policies on the run to prevent the possibility, however small, of Ebola being spread. Unfortunately, Frieden stopped short of endorsing isolation. Instead he announced that local officials would monitor doctors and nurses coming from West Africa for fever or other symptoms but not necessarily isolate them.
Frieden said isolating the brave doctors and nurses would be a “stigma” and make them “pariahs.” That’s a shockingly unscientific attitude toward quarantine from a trained epidemiologist.