We have been quiet until now about the Ebola cases in the United States. Let’s face it. None of us are surprised it found it’s way here. Most of us wonder what took it so long. We have been expecting the appearance of the dreaded virus since the 1970’s. The wonder isn’t how it got here, but what took it so long to get here.
We didn’t jump on the bandwagon to post about it for this amount of time because we wanted to see exactly how it would effect our society from government response to citizen reaction and action.
It’s been six months, and as with all things, the outbreak came and went. During that time, mass news media enjoyed the flurry of actually being watched for the latest news and bloggers went wild posting their two cents worth of commentary and second guessing.
For the most part, we saw exactly what the government feared would happen. People who were sick or knew they had been exposed chose to travel regardless of the risk to others. The needs of the one outweighed the needs of the society, and indeed, the globe. Fortunately, the number of people who were infected in the U.S. was very small. Nevertheless, some of those citizens still chose to do whatever they wanted to do regardless of the cost. Armed guards had to be placed at doors where people had been quarantined. The occupants refused to remain inside because they felt like they were “prisoners” and were worried about “losing their jobs” and other financial considerations. The rest of society continued to live their daily lives, waiting to find out if their city was going to be next.
Those people were receiving assistance both financially and fresh food was delivered to their homes every day. They were getting free medical care. They had internet, cable TV, and all the other amenities living in the U.S. provides. Still, they behaved exactly the way Sci-Fi novels and movies said they would. These are the reasons FEMA has so much power when it comes to such incidences.
The CDC and the WHO had been keeping Ebola under wraps for decades. Not really secret, but not something they wanted to alarm the American public about. They’ve been hunting, battling and studying Ebola since it first poked it’s head out of the caves of Africa. Those are not the only organizations that have worked relentlessly to keep the disease from becoming a pandemic. Various Christian ministries and charitable organizations have been in Africa taking great risks every time an outbreak occurred. Through it all, they created a battle plan should such outbreaks come to the United States. When the day came, they followed through with their plan and it worked. Imagine how much worse it would have been had no plan been made and people wandered around the country sick and continued to spread the virus without notice. Those who had been exposed, or gotten sick would have spread the disease, and the cycle we see in Africa would be present here.
In the meantime, as the prepared, we keep vigilant and prepare for these events. This won’t be the last time we have to be ready for such instances.
Here’s what we do know:
- It’s transmitted by touching body fluids.
- Body fluids can become airborne, such as coughing and sneezing.
- The exact moment when a person becomes contagious is not known.
- Fever indicates viral load.
- In Africa, it has been statistically shown that each person who has the disease will infect two more.
- About half the people who get the disease in Africa die.
- Dead bodies spread the disease.
- The viability of the virus outside a living host is not determined. There is debate ranging from a few hours up to a week.
- There has been no public discussion about how long a dead body may harbor live virus.
- United States and Canadian residents likely will fare better because health care and food supplies are more accessible.
- We quarantine in patients’ homes, whereas in Africa both the infected and undetermined status persons are quarantined in camps. Home quarantines are most comfortable for patients and reduces the spread of the virus to healthy persons.
- In the United States, food and necessary supplies are now delivered free of charge to those in quarantine.
- In America, we have the ability to use special ambulances equipped for safe transport of patients with level four contagions.
- Americans avoid locations where an infected person is reported to have been. So much so that one hospital became a ghost town and the mayor of New York City had to ride the subway just to prove it was safe.
We know all of this and still we took a look at our pantry and said to ourselves, “Are we really ready if something were to happen?”. At first, when the news broke about an Ebola case, then possibly two more, were in Dallas concerned us. We looked in the cabinets and the freezer and was satisfied that we would be fine if the disease were to make the long drive to our town. If we were to remain in our homes because other people in our town were passing around a disease, we could do it.
At least, we thought we could. Therein lies the difficulty. Can you really afford to quit your job? Taxes and health insurance don’t pay for themselves. The only way to fully guarantee that no one will bring the contagion into a home is that no one ever comes inside the home. Consider how many hundreds of people were being monitored or quarantined as the result of one person coming into our country with the disease. Are you financially prepared should such an event happen? This incident lasted a few weeks because of the swift and sure actions of all health care providers involved. You’ll need the amount of money saved that you would need every day, but you will also need additional funds for the things you don’t expect. Emergency situations, no matter how well prepared you are, need contingency funds and contingency plans.
For us, it’s time to reconsider how we do things. Not because we are fearful, but because it is the right thing to do. All households should be prepared to shelter in place should it come to your neighborhood. The less you need, the more help medical and relief workers will be able to provide those who are in real distress.