Ebola Virus Demands Wise Planning

Leaders who fail to plan for the unlikely, will be surprised by the unexpected.

In ancient lore, the city of Troy was defeated when they accepted a Greek gift, a hollow wooden horse filled with Greek soldiers. More recently, in 1777, poor planning led British General Johnny Burgoyne to march his army south from Canada into New York; colonists bushwhacked them at every turn. Burgoyne’s beleaguered troops were later beaten at the Battle of Saratoga (N.Y.). And in 1941 America was surprised at Pearl Harbor because many military leaders did not believe Japan was capable of such an attack.

American leaders have been caught unprepared once again. The Ebola virus is slowly creeping off the African continent, and US leaders are hesitant to take the necessary precautions. President Obama needs to lead: he should call Congress back to Washington DC and ask them to address America’s vulnerability to the Ebola virus.

The Ebola outbreak has underscored the importance of congressional action to reform the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) budget and priorities. Infectious diseases with a high mortality rate should be given the highest priority at the CDC from now on. Furthermore, Congress must ensure that financial, technological, logistical, and educational resources are made available to hospitals throughout the United States.

Effective quarantine protocols must also be passed by Congress and signed by the President. Three points are essential.

  1. Pilots and other individuals who are instrumental in the movement of medical personnel and humanitarian supplies to west Africa should not be quarantined. However, their interaction with the general public must be limited.
  2. Foreign nationals who have recently been in a country battling Ebola should be quarantined for three weeks prior to embarkation for the United States. US citizens who meet similar criteria should be tested prior to boarding flights for the United States, and then quarantined upon their arrival on US soil.
  3. If a US citizen contracts Ebola because he or she engages in non-humanitarian travel to the afflicted areas of Africa, that individual will bear up to $5,000 of the costs the US government incurs for the treatment and repatriation of that citizen.

Finally, the President needs set an example for politicians and celebrities everywhere; a public service announcement about Ebola would help him achieve this goal. The ad could be used to discourage travel to effected areas of the world, outline the proper safety precautions, highlight the symptoms of Ebola, and encourage concerned Americans to see a physician.

Sadly the aforementioned planning will not occur. Election day is essentially two weeks away, and many politicians are presently focused on driving voters to the polls by peddling illogical optimism and repeating insinuations and half-truths. Besides, many politicians dislike planning for the unlikely.

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