CDC chief admits he should have done more to contain first U.S. Ebola case
When President George W. Bush was a couple of days “late” — or so his political opponents said — in ordering the Federal Emergency Management Agency into action following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, he was savaged in the media and in public opinion polls.
Of course, the bad polling was being driven by a hostile media in the first place — one that had never portrayed Bush in a favorable light, because, ideologically, most media members and Bush were polar opposites.
Nevertheless, the government’s response, no matter who was in charge, was typical: FEMA did not perform any better following Superstorm Sandy in 2013. The reason? Bureaucracy is bureaucracy, no matter who is sitting in the White House. The only difference is the kind of press you get.
The lesson here, however, is plain: The federal bureaucracy is simply incapable of rapid intervention in any emergency — save for the National Guard and U.S. military — because it is just too large and unwieldy to function efficiently.
‘I wish we had put a team on the ground sooner’
And that is why Centers for Disease Control and Prevention chief Dr. Thomas Frieden keeps changing his story regarding the burgeoning Ebola outbreak in Texas: Because neither he nor his agency a) were prepared to deal with it; or b) have any idea what to do next. They are simply winging it, as evidenced by the director’s own recent admission.
In the first few days after Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national, was diagnosed with the deadly virus in Dallas, Frieden said treating someone with the disease could be done anywhere.
“Essentially any hospital in the country can take care of Ebola. You don’t need a special hospital room to do it,” he said Oct. 2. “You do need a private room with a private bathroom. And most importantly, you need rigorous, meticulous training and materials to make sure that care is done safely so that caregivers aren’t at risk.”
That was then. Now, some two weeks later, Frieden has had to admit publicly that the federal government loused up its response, saying Washington was not aggressive enough in moving to manage the disease, which included containing it as it spread from Duncan to a nurse who took care of him — and now another healthcare worker — all at the same hospital.
“We could’ve sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed,” he said October 14.
In making his admission, Frieden once more announced new measures (which he said earlier were already in place) aimed at halting the disease’s progression, which includes the creation of a so-called Ebola response team, as well as increased training for healthcare workers around the country and changes at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the site of the infection.
“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the patient — the first patient — was diagnosed. That might have prevented this infection,” Frieden said.
So, too, do the family of Duncan and the families of the two new infected patients, no doubt.
Uncle Sam’s agencies bloated, inefficient, slow
Frieden’s mea culpa comes as the World Health Organization delivered some additional dire news: By December, as many as 10,000 new cases of Ebola per week could crop up, though the new cases would mostly be in West Africa, where the current Ebola outbreak — the worst ever — began.
In a conference call late in the afternoon of October 14, the largest U.S. nurse’s organization told how Duncan had been left in an open area of the hospital emergency room for hours. Citing unnamed nurses, National Nurses United said staffers there then treated Duncan for days without wearing correct protective gear. And the group said potentially infective hazardous waste was piled up to the ceiling. Safety protocols were also changed constantly.
As such, a total of 76 healthcare workers may have been exposed to an infectious Duncan.
Now, with Frieden’s admission, will the press hold Obama responsible for “the Ebola Outbreak of 2014” like it held Bush responsible for “Hurricane Katrina 2005”? Time will tell, but if history is a guide, the answer is no.
In the meantime, more and more Americans will finally see the federal government for what it is: a bloated, inefficient, incapable and incompetent leviathan which moves so slowly that it can’t get out of its own way.
Learn all these details and more at the FREE online Pandemic Preparedness course at http://www.BioDefense.com