Woods: Why isn’t the CDC doing more?

Zoe Woods

Our situation is a lot more bleak than we think it is. Ebola is on the rise and on the verge of being classified by the Center for Disease Control as an outbreak here within the confines of our beloved country.

The possibility of American citizens becoming infected with the disease is more dire than we would like to believe it is. The medical oversight that is taking place in certain parts of our country calls into question the quality of preparedness our cities’ hospitals have. You also start to think about how many people are infected around the U.S. that we don’t know about yet.

A hearing took place in Washington D.C. on Thursday where the House committee grilled the CDC with hard pressing questions about what the agency is doing to stop the spread and prevent an outbreak of Ebola here in the U.S. and abroad.

Republicans from the meeting called for travel restrictions to prevent new Ebola cases from coming to the U.S. Democrats on the other hand defended the Obama administration and gave health officials, a chance to explain why a ban would not be effective and could, in fact, make the situation worse.

There is reason to believe that a country wide quarantine would only cause panic and force people to think outside the box in finding other ways into the U.S. Stopping flights coming in and out of West Africa won’t prevent travel to other countries where connecting flights to the U.S. take place.

It would prevent the CDC from being able to monitor passengers traveling from suspected countries where screening and questionnaires of passengers occur to determine possible infections in major international airports. But there is still that chance that people are missed or infected but not showing signs or even lying on the questionnaires.

However, there is such a thing as stopping the issue at its source. By preventing travel from West Africa to the United State and working with neighboring countries it would be possible to slow the disease and even stop it in its tracks.

I mean, those who traveled down to West Africa knew what they would be getting into, the fight is in West Africa not on U.S. soil. Supplies and medical equipment can be sent out to the infected areas where more than 4,500 people have died from the disease. It would lessen the risk of Ebola spreading in our country.

But what now? What could be done on home soil to prevent the spread of Ebola? Especially since its unlikely international travel restrictions will be put in place. It’s already in the states and we are struggling to deal with what little cases we have now. What do we do to prevent a widespread epidemic?

A short list may consist of stricter air travel within the states, more effective hospital wear that properly covers and protects against the virus and better protocol for facilities in fighting the further spread of the infection.

That may be a tall order, because the hospital in Texas where Ebola victim Thomas Duncan was cared for, was terribly underprepared to receive a patient infected the virus. Nurses and other medical staff were not properly covered and skin was left carelessly exposed. Causing the infection of two medical personnel with the possibility of more. Hopefully other hospitals are better prepared if someone is to get infected in that area and that they would be able to contain the infection, not make it worse.

Daniel Varga, the Chief Clinical Officer for the Texas company that includes the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, apologized to the House committee in the hearing on Wednesday for the negligence of not having the proper protocols when Thomas Duncan arrived and for all of the events following thereafter.

Thats all well and good, but an apology won’t undo what has already been done. Especially since a nurse infected with the virus, who was attending to Mr. Duncan needs at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, was able to board an airplane, 132 other people and whoever they came in contact with are now at risk of getting the disease.

She should have never been allowed to leave the area. How could she not have been under suspicion of being infected? Before she even boarded the plane she called in to the CDC to report an elevated temperature of 99.5 degrees, but they didn’t tell her to not board the plane. So what happened to, “better safe than sorry,” because we’re all sorry now.

The CDC is finally considering putting 76 other health care workers from the Texas hospital on TSA’s no-fly list. Hopefully, “better late than never” works.

Now what is this starting to sound like? Maybe World War Z or Dawn of the Planet of the Apes or maybe an even more realistic approach like Contagion. If the CDC doesn’t come up with something soon to either cure or combat this virus we could be looking at a very real movie-like scenario.

More has to be done to protect the American people. The CDC needs to stay ahead of the curve, and if drastic measures need to be taken in order to suffocate the possibility of the rest of our country being infected than it is most definitely worth it.