Panic, Politics & Policy

Fear and panic over ebola have now been officially endorsed by the Governors of New York and New Jersey, who, no doubt, recognize the political advantage of their new policies.  Mandating an enforced quarantine for health workers returning from West Africa, they choose to ignore scientific evidence in favor of appeasing the masses (and locking up votes).

Inappropriate, demeaning and surely subject to future lawsuits, this arbitrary policy will certainly discourage health care workers from volunteering to serve in the hot zone, where help is desperately needed.  Indeed, unless that crisis is aggressively addressed, the ebola outbreak will spread to other African countries and could easily become a global epidemic.

When politicians begin to make medical decisions, the authority of science is diminished.  While there were some initial missteps by medical personnel and the CDC in Dallas, recent surveillance plans and science-based management protocols will protect Americans without the need to imprison health care workers.  The Governors may want to be viewed as public heroes but they are doing more to fuel panic than they are to address the problem.