When there is a major problem somewhere in the world, Barack Obama loves to show that he is "doing something" by sending a contingent of U.S. troops to the affected area. But is it really wise for Obama to send thousands of young American men and women into the Ebola death zone? What are our troops going to do – shoot the virus? Of course not. The UN already has 6,000 uniformed peacekeepers in the region, and they are not doing much good. The truth is that this is a medical crisis that requires medical personnel. By sending thousands of troops into the heart of the Ebola pandemic, we make it much more likely that Ebola will be brought back to the United States. Obama should keep in mind that hundreds of health workers have become infected even though they wear protective gear and are trained to deal with Ebola patients. Our troops have not been trained to deal with Ebola patients and they probably will not be wearing full protective gear when dealing with the general population. But there are sick people among the general population that could pass Ebola to them.
It is absolutely imperative that we keep Ebola isolated to the areas that it is already affecting. The number of Ebola victims has doubled over the past month, and there are computer models that are projecting that millions of people could soon be sick if the virus continues to spread at this pace.
Putting medically untrained troops directly into the death zone seems like a very questionable thing to do. If a single one of them gets sick and brings the virus back home, it could turn out to be one of the most foolish things that Obama has ever done.
President Obama stressed his sense of urgency on Tuesday at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, warning that as America scurries to help West African nations grapple with the deadly Ebola epidemic, 'We can't dawdle on this one.'
Of course this is something that he should have done a month or two ago, but at least he is finally stepping up to the plate.
However, Obama continues to insist that the chance of an Ebola outbreak happening in the United States is "extremely low"…
'Our experts here at the CDC and across our government agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low,' Obama declared.
But he described a battery of new biosecurity measures, including toughened airport screening and a growing capacity for lab testing, that will help 'in the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores.'
He better be right about that.
One thing that Obama has correctly identified is the need to build a lot more treatment facilities for Ebola in the affected regions. Right now, all of the existing facilities are completely full and there are no empty beds left…
Countless taxis filled with families worried they've become infected with Ebola currently crisscross Monrovia in search of help.
They scour the Liberian capital, but not one clinic can take them in for treatment.
"Today, there is not one single bed available for the treatment of an Ebola patient in the entire country of Liberia," said Margaret Chan, the World Health Organization's director-general.
"As soon as a new Ebola treatment facility is opened, it immediately fills to overflowing with patients," the WHO said.
Obama's plan calls for building 17 new Ebola treatment facilities with approximately 100 beds each.
Needless to say, that is not going to get the job done. 1700 beds is going to be kind of like spitting into Niagara Falls if we actually do see hundreds of thousands of cases in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea by early next year.
But should we give Obama credit for trying to do something about this crisis even though he has waited far too long and his plan is not well thought out?
I am not so sure.
And one U.S. health official told the U.S. Senate on Tuesday that if Ebola continues to spread like wildfire that we could be "dealing with it for years to come"…
"If we do not act now to stop Ebola, we could be dealing with it for years to come," said Beth Bell, director of the national center for emerging and zoonotic infectious diseases at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At a Senate hearing on Ebola, she noted that 100 CDC staff are working in West Africa and hundreds more are assisting from Atlanta. "The best way to protect the U.S. is to stop the outbreak in West Africa."
Most Americans still do not seem too concerned about this virus.
But this is not the bird flu. This is a disease that is killing more than half the people that it infects.
Dr. Kent Brantly, one of the American doctors that contracted the virus but eventually recovered, says that this is a crisis that we need to be taking very seriously…
"From the time I fell sick, just two months ago, the death toll has tripled," Brantly said, noting World Health Organization estimates of 5,000 cases, with about half of those patients dying from the virus. "In nine months down the road, we are looking at hundreds of thousands, not just in cases, but deaths."
So what do you think?
Is Obama responding appropriately to this crisis?
Is the world handling this outbreak well?
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