Chris Christie Was Right to Quarantine Kaci Hickox, Wrong to Back Down
We’ve talked about Ebola’s lethality and the government’s staggering ineptitude.
Now it’s time to admit Ebola is here to stay. But not because it’s an efficient killer. It’s much more basic. Ebola will thrive because it is being enabled by America’s Big Three diseases which have been gnawing at our core for years: Arrogance, Incompetence, and Entitlement.
Yet we won’t use the antidote — common sense and intestinal fortitude — because of our denial that we are the problem.
Let’s look at the recent spate of mind-blowing developments helping Ebola gain a foothold:
1) Nurse Kaci Hickox, upon returning from West Africa where she treated Ebola patients, registered a fever at Newark airport. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie placed her under the state’s mandatory quarantine. But she threatened to sue, of course. Her confinement was inhumane, and her civil rights violated! Oh the horror of sleeping, eating, giving interviews and watching movies while keeping the public safe!
But rather than standing his ground, Christie released her into America’s most densely populated region so she could go home to Maine. And what a shocker: she is defying her quarantine order there, choosing to ride a bike and frolic in public.
“I will go to court to attain my freedom… I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines,” Hickox says.
Grow up, Kaci. First, you are free. If you don’t believe it, visit Cuba. Second, since we still don’t know what we’re dealing with, quarantine is part of the gig. If people don’t like that, they don’t have to go to Africa. But you did. Deal with it.
The hard fact is that we have no idea whether Ebola is lurking in her system, since its incubation period is (usually) 21 days or less. If it slowly manifests itself while Hickox is out and about, she could infect others — thus the absolute need for quarantine. What part of this can’t they understand?
It’s not without irony that Hickox helps those abroad, but shows little regard for her neighbors, potentially putting them at risk of contracting the same disease she battled.
2) Christie should not have discharged her. While he claims he didn’t buckle under pressure from the White House and medical “experts,” that’s clearly what he did. Releasing her to a private transport company, especially given her flagrant disdain for the rules, was especially troubling. In his first true presidential-caliber test, Christie failed, and his capitulation should hurt him in the presidential primaries.
3) Dr. Bruce Beutler, an American immunologist and geneticist who won the Nobel Prize for Medicine and Physiology, doesn’t think Christie is being strict enough. “I favor (the quarantine) because it’s not entirely clear that they can’t transmit the disease,” he said. “It may not be absolutely true that those without symptoms can’t transmit the disease…there’s a lot of variation with viruses.” And given a recent study (backed by the World Health Organization) showing that thirteen percent of Ebola-infected people never exhibit a fever, that should be all the science we need for instituting quarantines.
4) Kaci’s attitude isn’t surprising. We Americans have come to believe we are entitled to everything, and cry that we’re “bullied” anytime someone advocates personal accountability. The “I-deserve-what-I-want, when-I-want-it” mentality has decimated common sense and respect for others. No society can prosper when basic actions for the greater good are flushed away.
And let’s not forget Dr. Craig Spencer in New York, who, after working with Ebola patients in Africa, ignored self-quarantine and lied to authorities about riding in subways and taxis, dining out, and bowling — then developed Ebola. And who picks up the tab for the decontamination costs in Dr. Spencer’s case? Shouldn’t he be liable for his actions?
One of the first things taught in medical school is that patients lie. We should assume the same for healthcare workers, since, as Dr. Beutler correctly stated, some “behave very irresponsibly.”
Bottom line: if “elite” medical professionals can’t be trusted to follow the rules and tell the truth, what makes us think that Ebola can be contained?
5) If a healthcare worker who unknowingly has Ebola breaks quarantine and transmits it to someone who later dies, should that person be charged with manslaughter? Absolutely.
Transmitting HIV is a criminal offense, and high-speed reckless driving endangering others is often a felony, so spreading a lethal virus after violating rules should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.
6) The Ebola Wars are not without comedy. Some in the medical community, the CDC in particular, have scolded leaders for establishing quarantines. Accusing them of making decisions based on politics, they argue that they, not politicians, should be calling the shots.
Are they serious? The same people who have been monumentally screwing up from the beginning are now trying to act with moral authority? That’s like Lindsay Lohan preaching temperance. If laughter is indeed the best medicine, well, mission accomplished, CDC.
7) Most Americans favor quarantines and travel restrictions, yet their concerns are being ignored by the White House, even as more countries adopt those strategies. (Australia just suspended entry visas for people from Ebola-affected countries).
America’s answer? The State Department wants to bring foreign health care workers infected with Ebola to America for treatment. Only expletives can adequately describe the stupidity of that plan.
8) What if Ebola arrives at a nearby hospital? Do you send your kids to school if a classmate’s parent works in that hospital? What happens when thirty people become infected, and medical teams can no longer give their undivided attention to a single patient?
Most chilling, what’s the plan for dealing with non-“model” Ebola patients, i.e., those who don’t seek treatment — the illegal alien scared to come forward; the person having an affair who won’t list his mistress as a close contact; “co-habitating” college students who think they’re invincible; the homeless; even the Average Joe. In other words, damn near everybody. This is exactly how Ebola can efficiently spread throughout the most mobile society on earth.
Not enough people are asking these questions. Instead, too many are dismissive of Ebola as a major threat, or focused on politically correct measures that make Ebola’s inroads that much easier.
Hippocrates said, “Extreme remedies are very appropriate for extreme diseases.” After 2,400 years, it’s pretty scary that many “experts” still haven’t learned from history.
Chris Freind is an independent columnist and commentator. He can be reached at [email protected]