Be afraid: The influenza virus kills thousands of Americans each year
Five cases of Ebola have been treated in the United States so far this year. Three were contracted in Africa. Two of these victims were Americans who were flown home for treatment. The other was the Liberian national, Thomas Duncan, who developed symptoms after he arrived in Texas from Africa. The last two were healthcare workers who treated Duncan in Dallas. Of the five, only one patient has died — Thomas Duncan.
Tragic as these cases are, the hysteria they have unleashed in the media and among Republican politicians is beyond over the top. The Ebola “crisis” has topped the hour on cable news channels for days. The lowest point, so far, was when news choppers tracked an ambulance for an hour or so one early evening last week as it transported one of the nurses to a hospital, bringing to mind the infamous “slow speed chase” on L.A. freeways that kicked off the O.J. Simpson murder scandal in 1994.
Meanwhile, with the midterm elections a few weeks away, Republicans have worked nonstop to blame the Ebola outbreak on Pres. Obama and, by extension, the Democrats. They have also incorporated the outbreak into their get-out-the-vote strategy by fanning the flames of fear to get their easily terrorized followers to the polls. Their unified message on Ebola — a call to ban flights into the United States from the affected areas in Africa — is typically anti-scientific and counterfactual. Experts say such a ban would likely create a bona fide crisis here, and there is the embarrassing fact that there are no direct flights into the United States from the affected countries.
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