Ebola: Intrusive Requirements for Everyone?
If the Ebola virus disease (EVD) explodes across America we can expect many oppressive but necessary laws to be passed. There will be limitations on personal liberty, but hopefully lawmakers will think these issues through, debate them, and implement only those most necessary.
Reasonable people will argue that, in times of emergency, extreme measures must be taken for everyone’s good; however, there is always a problem. When extreme measures are taken “for the present time,” some of them persist after the danger is past. There are many examples of that in our history. So we must ask questions and demand answers from the authorities.
There is no doubt that new, intrusive laws would be passed (or implemented) that would restrict our freedoms. There could be mandatory vaccination (if one is discovered) but what if you think the shots would be far worse than the risk of getting the disease? What if you refused the shots? If an Ebola outbreak happens in your city, you may be quarantined. What about your travelling job? What about seeing your children in another city? Will you obey a law that restricts public meetings such as church services, weddings, and funerals? If so, for how long?
Liberia’s president wants to confiscate private property to provide land to make public graveyards but people are resisting. She has also cremated more than a thousand Ebola victims although it is contrary to their culture and deeply held beliefs. Moreover, she has required journalists to get any Ebola-related story approved. Would Americans be compliant with such laws?
What will happen when a physician, dentist, nurse, undertaker, etc., refuses to handle an Ebola victim? Will they be prosecuted for discrimination? Many health workers will decide that they would rather be “tried by 12 than carried out by six.” There is opposition in Spain by 200 health workers and at LaGuardia Airport 200 airplane cabin cleaners walked off the job Wednesday evening. Will such protestors be prosecuted if this disease escalates?
Ebola is galloping across Africa and will probably be in every nation on the continent by the end of the year. One cause of the Ebola spread that no one has discussed is the African truck drivers who visit prostitutes along their cross national routes. Even if a man has survived EVD, he can still infect a woman for seven weeks following his recovery according to WHO. Most of our politicians and physicians (who are often politicians) are hoping, maybe even praying (!) that Ebola won’t explode here. Hoping won’t do anything to protect us from a plague and praying will only help if we follow God’s provision to combat it. Wringing of the hands won’t do much good either.
Consider that in A.D. 189, a great plague (thought to be smallpox) attacked the Roman Empire and 2,000 people died each day in Rome. Rome was in trouble at that time with internal strife, debased currency, encircling barbarians, and demoralization of the populace. Those complex problems were made infinitely worse by 2,000 deaths daily. The labor supply was dwindling, military campaigns were stopped or hindered, day-to-day business operations were paralyzed, and production of food almost ceased. The weakened Empire was grinding to a halt. I’m afraid that is the process in Africa as I write.
Liberia’s Ambassador to the United States confirmed in an interview with the BBC that his country is “close to collapse” as a result of this unprecedented Ebola outbreak. That’s the way it has always happened in the past. People panic, lose or quit their jobs, live from one day to the next, no hope for the future, no confidence in public officials, no concern for others in the same circumstances, and turn to crime to sustain themselves. Look for many African nations to collapse in a few months. The city of New Orleans had that very experience.
In 1878, a deadly plague started along the Gulf Coast of the U.S., almost wiping out some towns. It caused horror and fear wherever it hit. It slowly worked its way up the Mississippi River to New Orleans, killing the poor and prosperous, ignorant and intelligent, and city-folk and country-folk alike. Its name was whispered in awe: yellow fever.
New Orleans in 1878 was a prosperous, proud, and prissy city. Cotton was king, food was an obsession, dueling was common, and gambling was rampant. The wealthy lived in opulent, antebellum homes nestled along the Mississippi. Everyone knew that yellow fever was working its way north along the river, and everyone knew it was deadly; however, New Orleans officials and the media told everyone not to worry. Things would be all right. They wanted to believe that, but had no reason to believe it.
When the fever hit New Orleans, it was the worst plague to lash across the face of the city in its history. More than half of the inhabitants were killed and in fact, the city lost its charter and was not an official city until 14 years later. Public officials dallied, dawdled, delayed, and denied the danger thinking they were too smart, sophisticated, and special for such a thing to happen to them. It happened. Officials refused to take the warning seriously and everyone paid for it.
New Orleans may be a prototype of America when massive biological terrorism or a dangerous, deadly disease lashes the face of America from sea to shining to sea. Ebola is already here conveyed from Africa and officials are reacting in ineffective, even senseless ways. We must realize that we are not so smart, sophisticated, and special that such a thing could never happen here. Moreover, we must take immediate steps to prevent the worst case consequences.
It is only wise to plan for the worst, not the best. We should refuse to admit any tourist into the U.S. who has spent any time in any African nation unless he or she is willing to be quarantined for 21 days. Those travellers should be detained before they arrive in the U.S. All U.S. military, medical personnel, and government officials returning from Africa should be quarantined for 21 days. Frankly, all U.S. military troops should be returned immediately.
It should be assumed that the disease can be contracted through coughing and sneezing. A peer-reviewed study by German doctors published in the Oxford University Press reported Oct. 9 that they found that a patient showing no symptoms of the disease “can still transmit a virus like Ebola by air if droplets containing the virus are transmitted to another person by a sneeze or cough.” (Emphasis added.)
We must react as concerned, committed, and compassionate people who have the facts, rather than as people have historically reacted in times of distress, disease, and death.
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