Ebola concerns and what Frieden said about getting on a bus

I’m listening to Rush Limbaugh today and understand Jim was talking about Ebola on the big radio show earlier today. I’m no expert, but let’s put this in perspective. At this point, there is very little chance you’ll be exposed to Ebola. Period. You’re more likely to be killed in an auto accident on the way to work.

Let’s look at what CDC Director Thomas Frieden said.

BRITNEY HUGHES: Thank you, in a video message to countries in West Africa that are experiencing Ebola outbreaks, President Obama told residents that they cannot get the disease by sitting next to someone on a bus, but CDC recommendations state that travelers in West Africa who begin to show possible symptoms, or people whose experience a high risk of exposure should avoid public transportation including busses and we have also seen large amounts of concern regarding potentially infected people traveling on airplanes. My first question is did the CDC vet this video message before it was released and posted on U.S. Embassy websites, and is it true a person runs absolutely no risk of contracting Ebola on public transportation such as a bus.

TOM FRIEDEN: Yes, CDC vetted the message and yes, we believe it is accurate. I think there are two different parts of that equation. The first is if you’re a member of the traveling public and are healthy, should you be worried that you might have gotten it by sitting next to someone. The answer is no. Second if you’re sick, and you may have Ebola should you get on a bus, the answer to that is also no. You might become ill; you might have a problem that exposes someone around you. Because the risk is so low, we think there is an extremely low likelihood that anyone who travelled on this plane would have been exposed, but we’re putting into place extra margins of safety and that’s why we’re contacting everyone who was on that flight.

Words and the audience are important here. Reference to this statement in the media may be overblown.

  • The communication strategy does suck, but not surprising.
  • The sentence was not “sitting next to someone with Ebola.”
  • His audience for this teleconference was US journalists.
  • The video by President Obama referenced by Hughes was for distribution in West Africa, and the message was confusing.

As far as we know, Ebola is transmitted through blood or body fluids, including sweat. In other words, if someone has Ebola and travels on a bus and sweats on the armrest and a seatmate touches the sweat and wipes their eyes or mouth, it seems like they become one to put into the “very high” risk category. So yes, you can catch Ebola by sitting beside someone with Ebola. Why this is such a difficult message to deliver is beyond me, but if anyone can mess it up…

Now, let’s take a very close look at what Frieden said later in the teleconference, with my emphasis in bold.

CHRIS PEREZ: Good afternoon Dr. Frieden. What sort of treatments will (name redacted) be receiving, and how is it possible for someone, how going forward, will it be possible to stop people that treated Mr. Duncan from getting on public transportation?

TOM FRIEDEN: So the treatment of both of the patients there is as per their treating physicians. That information has to be from the hospital there. In terms of controlled movement, that is something that we work out with the state and local public health authorities. At this time, we require anyone who may have been exposed to travel by controlled movement only. The health care worker number two, who traveled from Ohio on the 13th of October, Monday, should not have traveled, should not have been allowed to travel by plane or any public transport by virtue because of the fact that she was in an exposed group. And although she did not report any symptoms, and she did not meet the fever threshold of 100.4, she did report at that time that she took her temperature and found it to be 99.5. So by both of those criteria, she should not have been on that plane. I don’t think that changes the level of risk of people around here. She did not vomit, she was not bleeding. The level of risk of people around her would be extremely low. Because of that extra margin of safety, we will be contacting them all.

So Frieden states the nurse should not have been allowed to travel because she was in an “exposed group.” So what about those in an exposed group in West Africa? All the traveler has to do is lie – like we know Thomas Duncan did – to travel.

Now, let’s talk about common sense prevention of the spread of Ebola or any other virus. What does the CDC say about siblings and parents of children who may have the flu?

If flu conditions become MORE severe, parents should consider the following steps:

  • Extend the time sick children stay home for at least 7 days, even if they feel better sooner. People who are still sick after 7 days should continue to stay home until at least 24 hours after symptoms have completely gone away.
  • If If a household member is sick, keep any school-aged brothers or sisters home for 5 days from the time the household member became sick. Parents should monitor their health and the health of other school-aged children for fever and other symptoms of the flu.

That’s a self-imposed quarantine for the entire family. Why would the CDC say it’s perfectly fine to allow people to travel from Ebola-hit areas when they suggest siblings of family members with the flu should keep them out of school?

I know this seems hard to understand for some, but limiting the transportation of those living in Ebola-hit areas seems logical. In no way does the suggestion of a quarantine for those living in the area limit the care they can receive. This can be managed, and you would expect the Centers for Disease Control would have plans in place to do this in the United States, and the United Nations and WHO would have plans in place as well. But as we have learned during the last week, the CDC’s primary mission statement is not what we expected. As with many other government organizations, mission creep is rampant at the CDC. Trust me, mission creep is totally out of control at the UN and WHO as well.

Certainly, we can send help as thousands of volunteers here in the United States have been willing and able to go to the area to help train medical personnel and treat patients. By keeping the borders open to travelers, we are unnecessarily putting additional people worldwide at risk.

I don’t see why the CDC and WHO can’t figure out and implement a quarantine program in the area that would clear people for travel after a certain amount of time after they may have been exposed. It’s a crap-load of work for certain, but keeping the traffic flow going is not the right move.

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Steve McGough

Steve's a part-time conservative blogger. Steve grew up in Connecticut and has lived in Washington, D.C. and the Bahamas. He resides in Connecticut, where he’s comfortable six months of the year.


  1. Dimsdale on October 16, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    The CDC, and the regime of which it is a part, bungles more things than the Keystone Kops. What part of “quarantine” do they not understand as they continue to issue visas in Liberia and refuse to stop the influx of people from there and elsewhere in Africa? What part of economic destruction do they not understand (but the Dow clearly does) when people will be afraid to go out and shop for Christmas? What part of stupid don’t they understand when they send our troops, and eventually, or well worn National Guard, to Obola stricken countries? What part of really stupid don’t they understand when they allow a person with direct contact with an Obola patient and a mild fever to fly as they will on commercial airlines?

    Heinlein’s Razor: Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity, but don’t rule out malice.

  2. JollyRoger on October 17, 2014 at 11:39 am

    I stumbled on this article by a more honest member & scholar of our dear leader’s secular progressive cult, the closing paragraph says a lot about the jaundiced eye of the left and I’m sure it explains why we can’t close the borders- even to an infected Liberian who has opened incalculable new vectors for this pandemic- it would feel xenophobic!

  3. sammy22 on October 17, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    I think Shep Smith said it best on Fox

    • Dimsdale on October 17, 2014 at 1:19 pm

      Your link didn’t work for me, so I sought it out and found it. That said, I reiterate: we would have considerably less reason to worry about the disease if we didn’t have a feckless government continuing to issue visas in Liberia etc. and allow people into this country that could potentially be contagious but still pass through the “temperature screening”. Jim pointed out in great detail that it is just as contagious as most common viruses, particularly as an aerosol. I worry about it just as I worry about the various pestilences brought in with illegals (most of whom get ZERO screening), like whooping cough, incurable TB etc. If the CDC and the regime would be honest and forthright, and employed commonsense quarantine procedures from the beginning, we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    • Lynn on October 17, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Wow, I was so excited that you could finally provide links & then I realized this was nothing that was pertinent to the issue. Fail. Try writing what Shep said, or was your comment just a swipe at Fox. Fail again.

    • sammy22 on October 18, 2014 at 11:27 am

      Dims found it, I found it from FB. I agreed w/ what Shep said and glad that it showed up on Fox News. This time you fail, Lynn!

    • Dimsdale on October 20, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Well, let’s go with a 50/50 split on the “fail index”! You may like what Shep said, but he is a talking head and not a medical professional, much like the new “czar”….

    • Lynn on October 18, 2014 at 12:49 pm

      Ok, But Dims said the link you posted didn’t work for him and it didn’t work for me either. Dims is just smarter than me to track down the link to find out what Shep said. Also, unfortunately you can’t tell in writing whether a comment is snarky or for real. So, I apologize for not accepting your comment as it was. I will freely admit, that I am sensitive that some people will just not accept anything that Fox reports, including our beloved President (sarc). So, let’s just say, I am pleased that you agreed with a Fox story.

  4. Dimsdale on October 17, 2014 at 1:32 pm

    And let’s top it off by appointing Ron Klain, a Democrat insider lawyer who worked for some of the dumbest Dems, and who has zero health care experience, to be “Obola Czar”.

    You can’t make this stuff up!

  5. bien-pensant on October 19, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Once again, the regime has failed us. Big-time! They have been given the tools, dollars, to research ebola. Instead, they, the all-knowing, ever-wiser than any of us, bureaucrats at the CDC and the NIH have squandered money on true BS “research.” http://clashdaily.com/2014/10/15-b-s-research-projects-nih-wasted-10-million-money-instead-studying-ebola/. Crony research grants. Then there are studies about wives getting angrier during arguments, chimps throwing poop, and dozens more idiotic “scientific” inquires.
    Plus, Rush did a piece on how one of the heads of CDC or NIH funneled money to her friend at Revlon and away from a firm that was actually researching ebola cures. You can’t make this stuff up!
    True to form, Obama hit the golf course. The fundraisers will start up soon, again.

  6. Dimsdale on October 20, 2014 at 9:21 am

    ?bamafail is the new epic fail!

    • Lynn on October 20, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Can I use this as a hashtag on Twitter?

    • Dimsdale on October 21, 2014 at 9:52 am

      Fine with me! 😉


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