On the subject of Ebola, Chris Wallace of Fox News on Sunday interviewed Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. In case you didn’t know (and we didn’t), NIAID is a federal agency with a budget of more than $4.5 billion. That’s billion with a ‘b.’
Wallace asked Dr. Fauci a straightforward and pertinent question.
British Airlines have suspended all flights to and from the [Ebola] infected areas of Africa. Should the U.S. do the same? And should we impose a visa ban on anybody coming from these three countries in Africa?
That’s a good question because Ebola is a deadly and communicable disease, and America’s first Ebola patient, who died in a Dallas hospital, didn’t even have a good reason for entering the United States. Thomas Eric Duncan was an unmarried male with no job and no job offer. For economic reasons alone, such persons are usually denied entry visas. Yet the government allowed Mr. Duncan to enter the U.S., bringing Ebola with him, and to put at grave risk everyone with whom he came in contact.
In light of these facts, does Dr. Fauci believe we should restrict travel from West Africa?
“No, in my opinion absolutely not,” Fauci replied.
Because when you start closing off countries like that, there’s a real danger of making things worse. You isolate them. You can cause unrest in the country. It’s conceivable that governments could fall if you isolate them completely. Fauci said suspending flights would make it difficult to get supplies to West Africa. “They need help. They need equipment and they need health care workers to come in,” he said.
But the question was not about isolating these countries completely. The question was merely about suspending flights from infected areas, as Britain and France have already done. Nobody said anything about isolating those areas completely. That’s a straw man. We can suspend commercial passenger flights coming out while still allowing medical teams and shipments of supplies to go in, as Chris Wallace pointed out in his reply.
You could send equipment and medicine and health care workers in without taking thousands of passengers out.
Yet even after Wallace called him out, Dr. Fauci persisted in attacking the very same straw man!
“That’s true,” Fauci conceded. “But experience is, when you close such a country, you create such stress and fear and amplify the problem. So, I think any health care person will agree with me that that’s not a good idea to completely block off the country.”
Maybe “any health care person” would agree with him on that particular straw man, but they don’t all agree with him on suspending passenger flights. For instance, consider the following passage from the Washington Post.
Bodily fluids including vomit spread Ebola, and Duncan — who presented himself to a Dallas hospital only to be misdiagnosed and sent home — vomited on the sidewalk outside of his home. It took days before a properly trained Hazmat crew was sent to the apartment to clean it. The human errors in this single case highlight why it is urgent that we ban all commercial flights from the impacted countries to all non-affected countries until the outbreak is contained. (Emphasis added).
Those are the words of David Dausey, a Yale-trained epidemiologist who works on controlling pandemics, and who is dean of the School of Health Professions and Public Health at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania.
Does he count as a “health care person,” Dr. Fauci?
Furthermore, what’s all this talk about how “governments could fall?” We would have thought that American public health officials would be concerned with the health and safety of Americans, not the stability of African governments. If Americans end up contracting Ebola because government officials don’t do enough to keep infected persons from reaching our shores, those sick Americans won’t find much consolation in the fact that at least no African governments had fallen. And anyway, what does Dr. Fauci know about what causes governments to fall? We thought his field was epidemiology, not political science. We are not epidemiologists, but as social scientists, we find the notion of governments falling due to restrictions on commercial flights to be rather implausible.
Dr. Fauci’s specious arguments were echoed by Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Frieden argued that
sealing borders, restricting travel to and from countries with widespread cases of Ebola, and otherwise isolating communities infected with the deadly disease “increases people’s distrust of government, making them less likely to co-operate to help stop the spread of Ebola.”
Restricting commerical flights to the U.S., as they have already been restricted to Britain and France, will make people “less likely to co-operate to help stop the spread of Ebola”? Really? So Ebola sufferers will co-operate by dragging themselves to clinics and voluntarily submitting themselves to quarantine–unless they find out that Delta has suspended flights from Liberia, in which case they’ll suddenly refuse to co-operate? Gotcha.
But you know what really does increase “people’s distrust of government?”
When we question high-ranking government officials like Fauci and Frieden about serious issues regarding our safety and well-being, and they respond with lies and obfuscation.