Ebola and the politics of “do something!”

I must say, I hate the way politicians must always seen to do something in the face of a problem, even when doing nothing is the most judicious course.  And we are seeing it loud and clear in NY and NJ.  From the AP:

Alarmed by the case of an Ebola-infected New York doctor, the governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine of all medical workers and other arriving airline passengers who have had contact with victims of the deadly disease in West Africa.

Why pay attention to what the CDC, most international health organizations, and MSF recommend when you could do more to deal with American’s needless panic:

Health officials said he followed U.S. and international guidelines in checking his temperature every day and watching for symptoms, and that he put no one at risk…

Aid organizations such as Doctors Without Borders, the group Spencer was working for, have argued that mandatory quarantines are unnecessary because people with Ebola aren’t contagious until symptoms begin, and even then it requires close contact with body fluids.

Also, aid groups have warned that many health care volunteers wouldn’t go to Ebola hot zones if they knew they would be confined to their homes for three weeks after they got back.

“A three-week complete quarantine would eliminate two-thirds to three-quarters of the volunteers from the U.S.” going to West Africa, said Dr. Rick Sacra, a Massachusetts physician who was recently infected in Liberia but recovered. “They wouldn’t be able to spare the time.”

So, an excessive quarantine does not actually keep anybody safer and could lead to many more deaths in Africa.  But, hey, at least these governors have done something to calm the irrational fears of the American public.

(And just as I was about to post it, I saw that Jon Cohn basically wrote the same thing as me, but did a better job, of course).

Quick hits (part I)

1) How does a law professor get arrested for standing in a Wal-Mart?  When he’s a young black man and part of a Ferguson protest.

2) Marc Thiessen— the right’s leading torture apologist– thinks it’s only  a matter of time before ISIS starts using Ebola as a weapon.  Of course, this is simply Thiessen’s fantasy.

3) This Planet Money episode on how women started getting way less into computers in the 1980’s (when me and all my male friends loved them) was really, really interesting.

4) I’m an extrovert.  Do I look that way?

5) Who knew that Philosophy departments were bastions of sexism?!

6) On reading actual books.

7) One of the better pieces on Renee Zellweger’s plastic surgery.  All sorts of things are wrong with our ideas about famous females and their appearance, but all that said, if plastic surgery chances your appearance to the point that people don’t even recognize you, well, that’s worthy of some commentary in it’s own right.

8) Want teenagers to wait longer to have sex?  (I do).  Then let Planned Parenthood teach them Sex Ed.

9) A couple of my FB friends are totally pushing this ridiculous new competitor to FB that monetizes your posts in a pyramid scheme.  Seriously!  How many people are looking to make money off FB?  There’s far more psychic value in posting photos like this and getting dozens of likes.

10) Interestingly, breast self exams have no value added beyond that which comes from simply paying attention to any changes in your breasts.

11) I’m fascinated by the business of fast food.  Good article on why Chipotle is thriving and McDonald’s is not.

12) Lawmakers who support Voter ID and not so interested in responding to their minority constituents.  Surprise, surprise.

13) I’ve only read one Percy Jackson book and was way disappointed.  Not that that’s the point of this essay on Rick Riordan books and YA fiction.

14) On Ginsburg’s dissent on Texas Voter ID and the Texas Election Law blog via Hasen.

15) I want some Breaking Bad action figures!

16) More on the Republican attack on science funding.

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