Oh Look, the Official Statements about Ebola Are Subtly Shifting

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October 14, 2014

Oh Look, the Official Statements about Ebola Are Subtly Shifting


“We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control, because even a single infection is unacceptable,” Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a news conference.

Frieden did not detail precisely how the extensive, government-issued safety protocols in place at many facilities might need to change or in what ways hospitals need to ramp up training for front-line doctors or nurses . . .


Officials have said [nurse Nina] Pham wore protective gear, including a gown, gloves, a mask and a face shield, while caring for Duncan on multiple occasions. But Ebola can easily infect those who come into contact with the bodily fluids of Ebola patients, and the smallest slip in putting on or taking off protective gear can open the door to the virus.

“We need to consider the possibility that there could be additional cases, particularly among the health-care workers who cared for [Duncan] when he was so ill,” Frieden said. “We would not be surprised if we did see additional cases.”

Hey, remember when our government was all gung-ho, assuring us they were going to “stop it in its tracks”? Here’s he same guy, nine days ago:

Health officials stressed that they are confident they can control this situation and keep the virus from spreading in the U.S.

"We're stopping it in its tracks in this country," Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, declared during a news conference Tuesday afternoon.

See if you can spot the unnerving detail in our new airport screening policy:

JFK airport is the first U.S. airport to begin screenings for Ebola. Washington Dulles International Airport, Newark Liberty International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport and Hartsfield -- Jackson Atlanta International Airport will begin screenings this week.

Those five airports account for 94% of all the 150 travelers who on average arrive daily from those most affected countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over the past 12 months, JFK received about half the passengers from those countries entering into the U.S., according to the CDC.

So what about that other six percent? Are we just hoping that no one in that remaining six percent has Ebola? Sure, it’s just nine  people a day, but that’s 45 people a week, about 180 a month . . . And before someone says, “Oh, what are the odds of someone with Ebola getting on a plane and coming to the United States?”, remember, this already happened.

Does this mean “rethinking” the U.S. troops in the hot zone over there?

Small numbers of highly-trained U.S. troops wearing full-body protective gear have been testing the blood of potential Ebola victims without coming into direct contact with them, the head of the U.S. Africa Command said Tuesday.

Army Gen. David Rodriguez initially said at a Tuesday Pentagon briefing that teams of three or four personnel working at mobile test labs were likely to have direct contact with Ebola victims. However, he later issued a correction to conform with White House and Pentagon policy directives against direct contacts by U.S. troops.

"I want to clarify my remarks," Rodriguez said in a statement. "U.S. military personnel working in the labs are not interacting with patients, only samples."

In last night’s Senate debate here in Virginia:

Amid news that a health care worker in Dallas had become infected with the disease, both candidates agreed that President Barack Obama has been too slow to deal with the Ebola crisis.

[Sen. Mark] Warner said it may be time to consider restrictions on flights as some European nations have done, “particularly with a nation like Liberia, where Ebola has spread so widely.”

[GOP Senate candidate Ed] Gillespie said it’s too late to merely consider stopping flights from West Africa where there is an Ebola outbreak. “It’s time to impose a flight ban in that regard and that’s what this administration should do.”

The Gender Gap and the Marriage Gap

Leave it to Ramesh to write a column picking up every aspect of the much-discussed “gender gap” in American politics and to come to the fascinating conclusion that Republicans don’t need to worry about it that much -- at least, not as much as they need to think about appealing to the changing American electorate as a whole.

Polling has for many years consistently found that women are more supportive than men of social-welfare spending, economic regulation, and gun control, and less supportive of military action. In August, for example, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that the gender gap on raising the minimum wage was in the double digits, with women more supportive. These issues provide an alternative explanation of why the gender gap opened up around 1980: The parties became more divided on size-of-government questions then, too.

The political difference between the sexes is small but persistent and pervasive. Some subgroups of women generally fall on the conservative side of policy questions but are generally less conservative than the equivalent subgroups of men. Romney won 53 percent of married women and 56 percent of white women, for example, but 60 percent of married men and 62 percent of white men.

Whether they are winning or losing, male or female, pro-life or pro-choice, Republican candidates win a larger percentage of male than female votes…

The Colorado Senate race between Udall and Gardner, where contraception has become one of the top issues, could be the most important one this fall. It will be a test of whether the Republican party can compete in states that went twice for Obama. (Most of the competitive Senate races this year are in states that reliably vote for Republican presidential candidates.) Its rising Hispanic population makes it an important sign about the future, too. And if Republicans win there after renewed Democratic accusations that they are waging a “war on women,” perhaps they will be a little less spooked by the gender gap — and more focused on doing what it takes to build their baseline level of support among men and women alike.

Elsewhere, friend of NRO Ellen Carmichael lays out a bit about Gardner’s approach:

Instead of responding to Udall’s incessant fear-mongering by twisting himself into a rhetorical pretzel, Gardner simply dismisses this ludicrous mischaracterization, shrugging off these accusations for the wild blather they are. He then reinforces a reform he, along with Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, champions: permitting the sale of contraception over the counter without a prescription. Udall, Colorado’s heralded Rosie Riveter, mysteriously opposes this proposal . . .

As Udall and his allies hammer Gardner for views he doesn’t actually hold, the Republican congressman ties the liberal senator to a flailing president and his unpopular policies. While Udall carries on about fallopian tubes, Gardner champions fracking. While Udall drags on about abortion, Gardner dismantles Obamacare. While Udall breathlessly advocates for intrauterine devices as though he, himself, is implanted with one, Gardner talks about defeating ISIS.

Many have noted that the GOP does pretty well among married women, but they lose big among unmarried women. Analysts have suggested that unmarried women, facing more economic insecurity, are more likely to want to have government programs to help them. More Americans getting married (and staying married, and hopefully being happily married!) would be good for the GOP, but also indisputably good for the country -- particularly its children.

Is there a way to encourage people to get married and stay married without sounding like a jerk? Everyone seems to recognize the benefits of marriage -- generally -- and a large portion of those who aren’t married would like to be happily married someday. But obviously, it’s not like you can just go to the Apple Store and pick up the iSpouse, programming it to all of your personal preferences.

[CUT TO: Apple headquarters, where CEO Tim Cook reads this and says, “I’ve just got a terrific idea!”]

Ross Douthat, back in January:

I think you can see this kind of soft, consensus-driven pressure at work in the decline of teen pregnancies over the last two decades (whether the cautionary stories aired on “16 and Pregnant” has played a recent role or not); I think you can see it, as well, in the way that elite culture subtly disfavors out-of-wedlock childbearing and divorce (especially divorce while the kids are young) among the college-educated upper class. In neither case are people who violate these soft norms being ruthlessly excluded from society or deliberately punished by policymakers. But in both cases there’s a gentler kind of stigma at work, one that mixes sympathy with disapproval, a promise of tolerance with a warning of negative life consequences, and that seems to have had some real effect on people’s choices without requiring vicious ostracism or abuse.

What keeps people in relationships from getting married? The fear of divorce? One partner’s fear of commitment? Both partners’ fear of commitment? This 2011 interview with a professor focusing on African-American families suggesting
economic factors factor in greatly.” Are there really masses of happy couples out there, otherwise ready to tie the knot, but holding back because of economic insecurity?

It’s fascinating to think that American society might have the need to “promote” marriage, since at first glance, our popular culture seems to do it already. We have an entire entertainment industry turning out one romantic comedy and romantic drama after another celebrating true love.

But I’d submit there’s a catch: a lot of romantic movies and shows end with weddings. Because some screenwriters and directors deem married life boring, they aren’t as interested in telling romantic stories about married people. Thus, young people perceive marriage as the end of their loving lives, instead of the continuance of it or even improvement of it.)

Obama Administration to Insurance Companies: Shut Up and Obey

Hey, remember Obamacare?

Robert Laszewski, president of Health Policy and Strategy Associates, writes in USA Today that the Obama administration is putting the squeeze on health-insurance companies, trying to get them to remain quiet about any problems that arise in the second open-enrollment period:

The second Obamacare open enrollment is scheduled to begin on November 15th and end on February 15th. Instead of learning critical lessons from the mistakes of the first open enrollment fiasco, the Obama administration appears to be trying to silence potential critics.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that the administration sent an email to the insurance companies participating in Obamacare telling them to keep their mouths shut about the testing of the new health law's enrollment system saying, that unlike last year, they would require "all testers (the insurance companies) to acknowledge the confidentiality of this process" before they would be allowed to participate. The administration reminded insurers that their confidentiality agreement with the Obama administration means that insurance executives "will not use, disclose, post to a public forum, or in any way share Test Data with any person or entity, included but not limited to media..." This includes any "results of this testing exercise and any information describing or otherwise relating to the performance or functionality" of the Obamacare enrollment and eligibility system.

A year ago when the Obamacare enrollment system crashed and shut out millions of people trying to sign up for health insurance the only credible information we had came from the insurers who were participating in the program.

But hey, what are the odds of something going wrong with Obamacare, right?

ADDENDA: The makers of Healthcare.gov mess up; they ask for more money. The U.S. Secret Service messes up; their director asks for more money. The Centers for Disease Control mess up, and they ask for more money. In retrospect, it’s not that surprising my novel ended up on the nonfiction bestseller list, huh? (I also just noticed that the Publisher’s Weekly review says “Nonfiction Review” at the top of the page.) Remember that threshold I mentioned a while ago? We passed it when I wasn’t looking.

In other news, I spent only a quarter of my pop-culture podcast ranting about Twin Peaks. Mickey is quite patient.

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