As predicted by me, when word spread about that second nurse in the USA who contracted Ebola from the patient in Dallas, the USA reacted in exactly the absolute freakout fashion that I knew they would. “Aaargh!” Is right.
The stock market tanked on the news and the media hysteria went though the roof, with all kinds of finger-pointing and people raising questions about whether the USA was able to deal with Ebola. We’re getting the same thing up here, too, in usually calm and cool Canada, with people going around claiming this country is not ready to handle it.
Also, there was the kerfuffle in the past few days about how NBC correspondent Dr. Nancy Snyderman was spotted out in public violating her own voluntary quarantine after one of her NBC crew got sick from Ebola in Africa. People freaked out, and now she is now under a mandatory quarantine.
What is lost in all the noise and hot air is this — Dr. Snyderman does not have Ebola. Almost certainly, she isn’t getting Ebola. So everyone get off the ledge already.
Now, I know that you have to hold these health officials to the fire to make sure they are doing their jobs, but I am really alarmed by the panic atmosphere in the USA. I get particularly queasy going on the Drudge Report website in particular and reading about all the doom and gloom about this disease and how everyone’s losing the battle. What you aren’t hearing enough of are any of the few good news stories out there from places like Nigeria and Senegal, who seem to have succeeded in keeping the disease out of there (story here).
Instead, you are getting nothing but bad news reports about people on airline flights or who check into hospitals in North America who are suspected of Ebola, only to turn out to not have the disease. There was a patient in Ottawa, for instance, who was screened for Ebola but didn’t have it. Every time someone throws up now, people are scared it’s Ebola when it’s more likely lousy food that did it.
This is exactly the reaction we have come to expect from our friends south of the border. That’s why I keep on referring half-seriously to them as the “Upset States of America”, because this is so typical of them. Yes, Ebola is a serious virus and you need to take it seriously, but this is just plain panicking we are seeing down there.
It’s now spurring on people to suggest the USA adopt the usual protectionist bad ideas to seal the borders and keep people out of their country. There’s talk about how the TSA in their airports ought to put in even more oppressive measures to screen people for Ebola — which likely will not stop it anyway, but you can bet it will be one more hassle for travellers to the ‘States. This is the last thing we need — for common sense to go out the window with air travel.
Didn’t anyone down there bother to watch Ken Burns’ recent documentary about the Roosevelts? I guess people there are too busy tuned into cable news than to PBS. Americans really should heed the words of President Franklin D. Roosevelt who said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” This is all this is: fear-induced fear and overreaction.
Anyway, the good news is some media organizations in the USA are beginning to dial it back and try and restore some semblance of facts to the discussion. Here is what Shepard Smith on Fox News said this week on Ebola, and he was doing what everyone in the media should be doing — telling it like it is. As Walter Cronkite would say, “that’s the way it is.”