10/24/2014 archive

Four Patients and One Death Is Not an Epidemic

Politicians, particularly a certain group of loudmouthed, no-nothing Republicans and certain irresponsible members of the news media, are pouncing on the latest case of Ebola in New York City, leaving NYC officials to quell unfounded fears. The patient, Craig Spoencer, is a 33 year old physician who is a volunteer with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), or in English, Doctors Without Borders, returned to the US from Guinea where he had been treating Ebola patients. MSF has very specific instructions for their staff returning from Ebola infected countries.

MSF pre-identifies health facilities in the United States that can assist and manage the care of our staff members in the event they develop symptoms after their return home. This pre-identification practice is carried out in coordination with the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and departments of health at state and local levels.

Upon returning to the United States, each MSF staff member goes through a thorough debriefing process, during which they are informed of our guidelines.  

The guidelines include the following instructions:

1.    Check temperature two times per day

2.    Finish regular course of malaria prophylaxis (malaria symptoms can mimic Ebola symptoms)

3.    Be aware of relevant symptoms, such as fever

4.    Stay within four hours of a hospital with isolation facilities

5.    Immediately contact the MSF-USA office if any relevant symptoms develop

These guidelines are consistent with those provided by the CDC to people returning from one of the Ebola-affected countries in West Africa. MSF is also implementing new federal guidelines outlining reporting requirements for people returning from Ebola affected countries.

Dr. Spencer followed those guidelines to the letter. When he noticed he had a fever of 100.3°F, not the 103°F as first reported by the media, he called MSF and remained in his apartment. MSF notified the CDC which set in motion NYC’s protocols for treating and removing a patient with a highly infectious disease to the hospital.

There was no reason for him to self-isolate prior to running a fever because the only known way to contract Ebola is direct contact with infected body secretions. The virus is not very hardy outside the human body, in that it cannot exist on a surface for more than 2 to 4 hours and is easily killed with bleach. The likelihood of contracting Ebola by anyone who came in contact Dr. Spencer is practically nil. Not even the family of the one fatality, who had close contact and were confined in the infected apartment, has become infected. The only people infected in the US have been two nurses, who had close contact with a patient in the end stages of the disease and may have come in contact with infectious body fluids because of inadequate personal protective equipment (PPE) or during removal of the PPE. The guidelines for PPE have since been tightened to include a buddy system putting on and removing the PPE and covering all exposed skin. Doctors and nurses caring for Ebola patients will be restricted from caring for any other patients and will monitor themselves for symptoms.

The bottom line is these infections are isolated and contained. There is no risk to the general public. So, please, stop listening to Fox Noise and Republican fear mongers like Peter King and Darrel Issa.  

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

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Paul Krugman: Plutocrats Against Democracy

It’s always good when leaders tell the truth, especially if that wasn’t their intention. So we should be grateful to Leung Chun-ying, the Beijing-backed leader of Hong Kong, for blurting out the real reason pro-democracy demonstrators can’t get what they want: With open voting, “You would be talking to half of the people in Hong Kong who earn less than $1,800 a month. Then you would end up with that kind of politics and policies” – policies, presumably, that would make the rich less rich and provide more aid to those with lower incomes.

So Mr. Leung is worried about the 50 percent of Hong Kong’s population that, he believes, would vote for bad policies because they don’t make enough money. This may sound like the 47 percent of Americans who Mitt Romney said would vote against him because they don’t pay income taxes and, therefore, don’t take responsibility for themselves, or the 60 percent that Representative Paul Ryan argued pose a danger because they are “takers,” getting more from the government than they pay in. Indeed, these are all basically the same thing.

New York Times Editorial Board: Beyond Screening for Ebola

The new monitoring rules to be placed on travelers coming into the United States from three Ebola-affected countries in West Africa form a smart and workable response to a complex public health question. The measures should be more effective than a misguided ban on all travelers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, which many in Congress have been demanding. [..]

The new measures surely make unnecessary a harmful ban on all travelers who have been in the three countries. Federal health officials say most travelers returning from those countries are either American citizens or longtime legal residents. They include volunteers who have been battling the epidemic, journalists and federal health experts, among others. Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who visited West Africa recently, would presumably have been prevented from returning if there had been a travel ban.

A ban would discourage volunteers from joining the fight against Ebola and make it harder to bring the epidemic under control, the surest way to protect this country from imported cases.

Amy Gooodman: Ebola Czar? We Need a Surgeon General

The United States now has an Ebola czar. But what about a surgeon general? The gun lobby has successfully shot down his nomination-at least so far.

The Ebola epidemic is a global health crisis that demands a concerted, global response. Here in the United States, action has been disjointed, seemingly driven by fear rather than science. One clear reason for this: The nomination of President Barack Obama’s choice to fill the public health position of surgeon general, Dr. Vivek Murthy, is languishing in the Senate. You would think that an Ebola epidemic would move people to transcend partisan politics. But Vivek Murthy, despite his impressive medical credentials, made one crucial mistake before being nominated: He said that guns are a public health problem. That provoked the National Rifle Association to oppose him, which is all it takes to stop progress in the U.S. Senate.

Michelle Goldberg: The Women’s Equality Party Is a Joke

According to the website of New York’s nascent Women’s Equality Party, the organization was “[i]nspired by the spirit of Seneca Falls and those who came before us” and “brings together the strength of New York’s women leaders to help elect candidates who support the issues that matter most to us.” In actual fact, however, the Women’s Equality Party, which was founded by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in July, seems inspired by nothing so much as his desire to undermine the progressive Working Families Party. Cuomo’s attempt to hijack feminism for his own petty ends is such a craven move it could have been dreamed up by the scriptwriters at VEEP. It would be bleakly funny if it didn’t pose an actual danger to an organization that has always fought for New York’s women.

One of the great ironies here is that Cuomo’s feud with the Working Families Party stems, in part, from his refusal to do enough for women in New York, despite his staunch support for reproductive rights. Like many on the left, the WFP, a coalition of unions, activists and community organizers, was incensed by Cuomo’s tacit support of a weird alliance in the New York State Senate, in which the Republican minority teamed up with a small faction of breakaway Democrats to wrest control from the Democratic majority. That’s a big reason why Cuomo’s vaunted Women’s Equality Agenda, a 2013 legislative package that’s now a centerpiece of his campaign, never went anywhere.

Zoë Carpenter : The Stealth Campaign to Buy America’s Courts

Cole County, Missouri, seems an unlikely place for a national Republican group to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s a small county of 75,000, and its leadership is solidly red, with few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Pat Joyce, a Democrat who’s held her seat on the country circuit court for two decades. Until a few weeks ago, with $17,000 on hand and her opponent nearly $13,000 in debt, her chances of serving another term seemed good.

That financial advantage vanished abruptly in mid-October when the Republican State Leadership Committee stepped in with $200,000 to save Republican Brian Stumpe. Half of that money went directly to his campaign. The rest went to the RSLC’s local political action committee, which ran a tie-dye hued ad that accused Joyce of being a “groovy” ally of “radical environmentalists.”

Joyce holds a powerful seat, as far as local courts go. Cole County includes the Missouri state capitol, and so the court has jurisdiction over lawsuits against the state, such as legal challenges to ballot measures. But the RSLC’s involvement in the race isn’t necessarily about Joyce-it’s part of a broader campaign to make courts across the country more conservative.

John Nichols: Chris Christie’s Latest Terrible Idea: Let GOP Governors Control Voting for 2016

As the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and the self-appointed surrogate-in-chief for the Grand Old Party’s candidates for the top jobs in states across the country this fall, Chris Christie has plenty of reasons to want embattled governors like Florida’s Rick Scott and Wisconsin’s Scott Walker to be re-elected.

Yes, yes, Christie wants to elect governors who will stop all this talk about raising the minimum wage. Yes, yes, Christie wants to elect governors who will “start offending people”-like school teachers and their unions.

But that’s not all the New Jersey governor wants from his fellow Republican executives. Among the reasons he mentions for electing Republican governors, says Christie, is a desire to put the GOP in charge of the “voting mechanism” of likely 2016 presidential battleground states such as Florida and Wisconsin and Ohio..

The Breakfast Club (They’re Still Fighting)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

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This Day in History

Dawn of the UN; Dwight Eisenhower vows to end the Korean War; Suspects caught in D.C.-area sniper shootings; Concorde makes last trans-Atlantic flight; ‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry dies.

Breakfast Tunes

On This Day In History October 24

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

October 24 is the 297th day of the year (298th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 68 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1901, a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel. After her husband died in the Civil War, the New York-born Taylor moved all over the U. S. before settling in Bay City, Michigan, around 1898. In July 1901, while reading an article about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, she learned of the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt: She would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.

Desiring to secure her later years financially, she decided she would be the first person to ride Niagara Falls in a barrel. Taylor used a custom-made barrel for her trip, constructed of oak and iron and padded with a mattress. Several delays occurred in the launching of the barrel, particularly because no one wanted to be part of a potential suicide. Two days before Taylor’s own attempt, a domestic cat was sent over the Horseshoe Falls in her barrel to test its strength. Contrary to rumors at the time, the cat survived the plunge unharmed and later was posed with Taylor in photographs.

On October 24, 1901, her 63rd birthday, the barrel was put over the side of a rowboat, and Taylor climbed in, along with her lucky heart-shaped pillow. After screwing down the lid, friends used a bicycle tire pump to compress the air in the barrel. The hole used for this was plugged with a cork, and Taylor was set adrift near the American shore, south of Goat Island.

The Niagara River currents carried the barrel toward the Canadian Horseshoe Falls, which has since been the site for all daredevil stunting at Niagara Falls. Rescuers reached her barrel shortly after the plunge. Taylor was discovered to be alive and relatively uninjured, save for a small gash on her head. The trip itself took less than twenty minutes, but it was some time before the barrel was actually opened. After the journey, Annie Taylor told the press:

If it was with my dying breath, I would caution anyone against attempting the feat… I would sooner walk up to the mouth of a cannon, knowing it was going to blow me to pieces than make another trip over the Fall.

She briefly earned money speaking about her experience, but was never able to build much wealth. Her manager, Frank M. Russell, decamped with her barrel, and most of her savings were used towards private detectives hired to find it. It was eventually located in Chicago, only to permanently disappear some time later.

Annie Taylor died on April 29, 1921, aged 82, at the Niagara County Infirmary in Lockport, New York. She is interred in the “Stunters Section” of Oakwood Cemetery in Niagara Falls, New York.