Three point nine miles.
That is how close the Ebola scrutiny has come to my house, and I am ready to circle the wagons. Bar the door. Erect a force field. Grab a towel and whatever you do, Don’t Panic! (And don’t blink.) <Hitchhiker’s Guide and Doctor Who references, for those who don’t know>
The CDC and every media outlet tells us that Ebola is only spread through “close contact” with the bodily fluids of infected patients who are showing symptoms. Yet doctors in full hazmat suits are contracting the disease despite their own precautions. How will everyday Americans be resistant to the bug when 95% of them don’t wash their hands properly in public restrooms?
You come into contact with bodily fluids every day. Every doorknob you touch, every water fountain you press, every grocery cart you push — someone else’s hands, hands that likely weren’t washed as well as they should have been, have touched it. When you slide the locking mechanism on the bathroom stall, you are touching something that is likely loaded with body fluids. That sink lever you push up to wash your hands is also contaminated.
But let’s not stop in the bathroom. Let’s take a virtual walk through the grocery store, shall we? You know, the place people go to even when they are feeling ill so they can pick up some gatorade and saltines and bananas? If you use a cart, you can bet there are germs on the handle. How many germs, though?
“[There are] 138,00 total bacteria per square inch of a shopping cart — an amount which exceeds the number of bacteria in the average public restroom,” she says. “These are fecal bacteria capable of causing illness.”
So…if a person in the beginning throes of Ebola goes shopping for saltines and sprite, you can be sure that he or she will probably share some of those germs on the cart.
How about that little card reader at the check-out stand? Those same germy hands touch the stylus pen or regular pen, the keypad, and the little counter provided for signing receipts.
And then there are ATM machines. Mailbox handles. Sign-in sheets.
Anything that has to be touched is a potential point of contact with a pathogen.
So I am flabbergasted that our technologically advanced country that has been preparing hospitals nationwide to detect Ebola patients, especially those traveling from affected areas, dropped the ball in such a spectacularly horrible fashion.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital sent Thomas Duncan home when he first went to the ER. As a result of their mistake, a person who had contact with him lives 3.9 miles from me and is being monitored by the CDC.
The CDC says it has everything under control:
“We are stopping Ebola in its tracks in this country,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden, M.D., M.P.H. “We can do that because of two things: strong infection control that stops the spread of Ebola in health care; and strong core public health functions to trace contacts, track contacts, isolate them if they have any symptoms and stop the chain of transmission. I am certain we will control this.”
Yet clearly they don’t have it all under control. Dallas’ “Patient Zero” was misdiagnosed and sent home despite telling hospital staff that he recently arrived from Liberia. Then he possibly spread the virus to who knows how many other people, including school children.
When the ambulance picked him up, witnesses observed him “violently throwing up” outside the apartment building onto the sidewalk.
When were these Ebola-confirmed body fluids cleaned? Or the ones in the apartment where he was staying?
A local television station filmed these people power washing the sidewalk outside the apartment complex where the patient had been staying. Power. Washing. Yes, let’s attach Ebola to little water droplets and let them drift in the wind. Stick to resident’s flip flops as they walk through the water. Since the Ebola virus lives for up to SIX DAYS outside a person’s body, presumably those germs just sat there on the sidewalk until they were washed away by workers who weren’t even wearing protective gear!
Yes, that sounds like the CDC has it under control.
And then there’s the poor family caught up in the quarantine. They have been confined under armed guard in a tiny apartment that is contaminated with confirmed Ebola germs. Sheets, towels, cups, utensils, doorknobs, toilets, sinks, bathtub — everything in that apartment should have a skull and cross bones sticker on it for potential contamination. Yet instead of removing the family to a safe, CLEAN place, they pretty much guarantee that the family WILL contract the disease by forcing them to stay inside with the germy items.
Oh, and the feds forgot about food. Only after the family was interviewed by the media did the feds think to provide food for this family. Take a look at who delivered this food — can you see the words on the man’s shirt?
A LOT of forethought went into that, I’m sure.
As I am not impressed with the CDC’s efforts to professionally and thoroughly deal with this health crisis, I am taking my own steps and am urging my fellow Texans and Americans to do the same. We can be smart about this if we will follow just a few guidelines:
1. Contact your representatives and senators and ask for emergency legislation that will stop allowing travelers from the Ebola-affected areas to enter the US. Also ask for the US to do more to help combat the disease-ridden countries.
2. Do not use public restrooms.
3. If you must use public restrooms, wash your hands and your kids’ hands with soap and hot water for a full thirty seconds. Then use a paper towel to open the door.
4. If anyone in the family gets a fever, STAY HOME. Don’t let the sick person go to church, or to school, or to the store, or outside to play with friends, and keep other people away from your home until you know for sure what it is you are dealing with. If it’s a mild virus, it will run its course. If it’s Ebola, you’ll know quickly anyway with the severity of symptoms.
5. Have a supply of household bleach.
6. Use a disinfectant on your grocery cart before and after using it. You can use Lysol spray (they sell small cans that fit in a purse), wipes the grocery stores provide or that you carry, or diluted essential oils (although some oils, like lemon oil, are so strong they’ll eat through the plastic at full strength).
7. Use your own pen whenever possible.
8. Clean your hands as soon as you get back in your car, either with a homemade cleaning solution or a store bought one.
9. Don’t eat or drink after anyone, even in your own family.
10. Please don’t take your cell phone out in the bathroom. That’s just gross.
11. Assume that every surface you touch is contaminated with bodily fluids and wash, wash, wash your hands every time you pass a sink.
12. Finally — and this is probably the most important piece of advice — be like the woman who kept begging and pray without ceasing. Pray for the CDC and other officials who are trying to “stop Ebola in its tracks.” Pray that the Lord will grant them wisdom. Pray for the doctors and nurses who are treating Thomas Duncan. Pray for the nurse who failed to communicate the travel history up the chain to the physician. Pray for the family being quarantined in a horrible situation, surrounded by contaminated body fluids with no way to leave the house to get cleaning supplies. Pray for wisdom for the school districts of Dallas, Richardson, and Plano — all of which have students who have been taken out of class for observation because of their contact with Thomas Duncan. The custodians who are having to work extra hours in the schools and the hospital need our prayers. Of course, pray for Thomas Duncan’s condition to improve.
Since the Ebola virus is tiny enough to slip through wagons, doors, and force fields, I am a praying beggar. May God have mercy on us all.
Join me in praying and meditating Psalm 91 over the people in Africa, the people 3.9 miles away from me, and everyone in between:
As for you, the one who lives in the shelter of the sovereign One,
and resides in the protective shadow of the mighty king—
I say this about the Lord, my shelter and my stronghold,
my God in whom I trust—
he will certainly rescue you from the snare of the hunter
and from the destructive plague.
He will shelter you with his wings;
you will find safety under his wings.
His faithfulness is like a shield or a protective wall.
You need not fear the terrors of the night,
the arrow that flies by day,
the plague that comes in the darkness,
or the disease that comes at noon.
Though a thousand may fall beside you,
and a multitude on your right side,
it will not reach you.