Unnecessarily Stoking Ebola Fears

As if Ebola wasn’t already scary enough, some public officials seem to be making it worse with inappropriate and unnecessary comments and actions.

In Pennsylvania right now, no one has Ebola. Not a single person. No one currently in the state is even being watched for Ebola. But that didn’t stop Governor Tom Corbett from gathering the press together last week for a convoluted explanation that three people who recently left the state – they left the state, they didn’t enter it – are being watched for Ebola for the next three weeks. And then, for good measure, Corbett added, “Should they decide to return to Pennsylvania, we are going to look and see what we can do to get them back here safely into Pennsylvania, so that we can continue to monitor them very closely.”


But that pales in comparison to what’s going on in the small New Jersey town of Maple Shade, just a few minutes’ drive from where The Curmudgeon lives. There, a memo from a school nurse to the staff of her school noted that the following Monday the school would have two new students – from Rwanda. Somehow, this memo got into the hands of parents and a mini-panic ensued. The school district’s superintendent then intervened, posting the following notice on the school’s web site:

The Maple Shade School District takes the health of all students and staff very seriously.  As many of you are aware, we have students who have spent time in the eastern portion of Africa that were scheduled to start in our schools on Monday.  This area of Africa has been unaffected by the Ebola virus.  Despite the fact that the students are symptom-free and not from an affected area, the parents have elected to keep their children home past the 21 day waiting period.  The family is looking forward to joining the Maple Shade Schools the following week. 

Maybe the school nurse shares Sarah Palin’s ignorance of geography and thinks Africa is just a single, not especially large country. Rwanda, she clearly didn’t know, is more than 2700 miles from Liberia, the center of the Ebola epidemic, and has never experienced even a single case of Ebola.

Not one.

So maybe Governor Corbett should spend his time helping Pennsylvania hospitals prepare for the Ebola cases that may be coming their way and not worry about people who aren’t even in his state.

And maybe, considering that the U.S. now has four confirmed cases of Ebola and Rwanda has had none and the distance between Rwanda and Liberia, which is the heart of the epidemic, is about the same as the distance between Maple Shade and Los Angeles, the school superintendent should invite the two Rwandan children to school right away, order all of the rest of the children in the K-2 school to stay home for the next three weeks, and sentence the school nurse to visit the home of every child in the school, taking temperatures and checking for symptoms.


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