Prudence not Panic
This one word is causing all kinds of consternation across the United States as people are trying to sort fact from rumor while having all of their fears fanned by incessant media coverage.
For example, there’s the teacher in Maine who got put on administrative leave because parents were concerned that she had traveled to Dallas.
Actually she’s not the only one – there’s also a teacher in Alabama who was on the same plane (but different day) from one of the Ebola patients who is now on administrative leave.
Finally, there’s this article from the New York Times includes comments from a family in Louisville, Kentucky who are mostly staying in their home in order to avoid Ebola.
While I am all for prudence in the face of what is a terrible disease, I do think we’ve gone a bit too far.
On Friday I flew from Phoenix to Chicago on Frontier Airlines. Yes, the same airline that the nurse who got ill had flown. There was a couple on my flight wearing surgical masks - I can only assume it was as a precaution against Ebola. I do hope it made them feel more comfortable but I felt at no higher risk without one.
I certainly recommend being prudent. Unless there is actually an Ebola outbreak in your area, simply take the same types of precautions you would in the midst of flu season – wash your hands often, avoid touching your face, and practice other good health habits.
Once we understand that it is hugely unlikely Ebola is present in Maine, Alabama, Kentucky, Indiana – or wherever you live – we can focus our efforts on illnesses that are actually killing people in our communities. If the media would spend a fraction the effort they're spending on Ebola focusing on heart disease, the flu, traffic fatalities and other significant killers we could save more lives!