What a mess!
When it comes to dealing with a crisis, the Obama administration can’t get anything right — even after six years.
If Ebola was not such a dead serious subject, the administration’s handling of the threat would be a laughable example of another “ arrive late — lead from behind” response to a crisis.
For example, where is the Ebola “czar?”
One would think that the czar would have been front and center since his appointment and be an active participant in all White House and governmental meetings on how to deal with the Ebola threat.
So far, until his brief appearance at the president’s remarks on Ebola this week, he has been the “invisible man.” It’s no wonder that a recent Fox News poll shows that 67 percent of Americans think his appointment was merely a public relations move.
One would think that a real czar would have immediately met with governors, Pentagon officials and the HHS Secretary — who should have been in charge in the first place — and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials.
Instead, America has to ask, Who’s in charge here?
Because of this disarray and confusion at the federal level, nearly a dozen states have taken matters into their own hands and imposed restrictions ranging from mandatory 21 day quarantines on those who have treated or had direct contact with Ebola patients to less restrictive daily monitoring for 21 days for those returning from the Ebola impacted areas with no exposure to Ebola patients.
If this lack of coordination and confusion isn’t bad enough, Obama has imposed a double standard on the treatment of civilian health workers versus military personnel.
All U.S. troops returning from the Ebola affected areas will be quarantined for 21 days even though their role does not include having contact with Ebola patients. Yet, returning civilian healthcare workers who have worked with Ebola patients will be actively monitored for symptoms but not quarantined.
They must restrict travel and public activities. So who will monitor their activities to assure the public that they will not ride subways, eat in restaurants and go bowling as did Dr. Craig Spencer in New York?
Why the different treatment?
According to Obama, "it’s part of their mission that's been assigned to them by their commanders and ultimately by me, the commander in chief. So we don't expect to have similar rules for our military as we do for civilians.” But then, what choice does the military have? None.
To top it off, Obama said that health workers returning from Africa deserve “to be treated with respect.”
So what about our military Mr. President, don’t they deserve to be treated with respect when they return? Shouldn’t the same standards apply to them?
Military spouses were outraged — and rightfully so. If the Obama administration’s confusion and double standards on Ebola policy were not enough to worry Americans, a Fox News report revealing that State Department documents that indicated the administration was planning to bring non-American Ebola patients to the United States for treatment should. And who would these non-citizens be?
According to the Fox report, they would be from non-governmental organizations, major U.S. corporations and friends and allies in the Ebola areas.
When asked about the report, the State Department spokesperson stated that such a plan was by low level operatives and denied that it had been reviewed by senior officials.
Given the administration’s record on telling the truth, why should we believe her?
So, the debate continues—quarantine or self-monitor?
It appears that the outcome will have more to do with politics than with public health at least until we have one Ebola death in the United States of a person who had not been to an Ebola area or exposed to an Ebola patient.
If that happens, we will see how fast confusion, disarray and double standards end.
Clarence V. McKee is president of McKee Communications, Inc., a government, political, and media relations consulting firm in Florida. He held several positions in the Reagan administration as well as in the Reagan presidential campaigns and has appeared on many national and local media outlets. Read more reports from Clarence V. McKee — Click Here Now.
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