THE gop / tea-bagger obstructionist in congress are experts in encouraging fear and panic while preventing an adequate (due to lack of funding) federal government response to any major threat or disaster. Ebola is a threat, and the gop and tea-baggers along with the mainstream media are howling like banshees, terrifying much of the American public, and they are trying to use one Ebola death and two confirmed Ebola cases in the U.S. politically against Pres Obama and every Democrat and Independent candidate running in this years mid term elections. But Democrats are fighting back, pointing out the situation warrants a vigorous response but the republican house leadership will not order the House Appropriations Health subcommittee back in session for hearings on funding for the CDC and NIH. To do so would provide a very public forum for the American people to find out the CDC and NIH preparation and response to Ebola is hamstrung due to sequestration and budget cuts imposed by the gop / tea-bagger cabal in congress. Here's a video from +Erica Payne at the Agenda Project, +Daily Kos and a very SANE, very INFORMATIVE report from the +PBS NewsHour .....
Testimony from public health officials in the Senate a few weeks ago and subsequent media follow up has pointed out a serious deficit for public health funding. In fact, NIH Director Francis Collins said, point blank "if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would've gone through clinical trials and would have been ready." These reports led House Democrats to call for a hearing on the lack of funding for the Ebola crisis.
"As we mourn the death of Thomas Eric Duncan and pray for the two health care workers infected in Dallas, we reiterate our call for Chairman [Jack] Kingston to convene our subcommittee immediately," Democrats on the House Appropriations Health subcommittee said in a joint statement. […] "The Homeland Security Committee met nearly two weeks ago, and an Energy and Commerce subcommittee will meet tomorrow. For our subcommittee, the one in charge of funding the NIH and CDC, to continue to shirk its responsibility and go without so much as a hearing is unacceptable,” they said in their statement Wednesday.Kingston, the first GOP lawmaker to call for an "Ebola czar" obviously has refused to hold that hearing or say why. The spokesperson for the committee said simply that the
Committee currently has no hearings scheduled as the Congress is in recess." Recess can be interrupted, however, for the Energy and Commerce Health Committee's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, as the Democrats noted. That's because that hearing is about "Ebola outrage," in which "CDC Director Thomas Frieden will likely face a series of tough questions." They'll also grill NIH infectious disease director Anthony Fauci and officials from Texas Presbyterian Hospital, where two nurses have contracted the disease after treating Duncan. There's always time for bashing the Obama administration for House Republicans.
When Democrats win, public health wins. Please chip in $3 to strike a blow for science.The hearing will at least provide the opportunity to committee Democrats to ask about funding levels for the agencies, but the intent of this hearing is clearly political—Obama administration bashing. Doubt that? "Colorado Republican Congressman Cory Gardner, who is locked in a competitive race for the Senate against Democratic Senator Mark Udall, will travel back to Washington on Thursday to attend the hearing."
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Originally posted to Joan McCarter on Thu Oct 16, 2014 at 08:49 AM PDT.
Also republished by Daily Kos.
TRANSCRIPTGWEN IFILL: Late today, the Centers for Disease Control reported that it is expanding its Ebola investigation to include passengers on a second flight flown by one of the nurses since diagnosed with the disease. And the airline is notifying passengers who may have flown elsewhere on the same jet.As new details emerge, and as today’s congressional hearing showed, domestic concerns over Ebola are skyrocketing. A new Reuters/Ipsos poll finds 41 percent are very concerned about the outbreak, 36 percent are somewhat concerned. And 45 percent say they are avoiding international travel.
A separate poll by the Harvard School of Public Health found that more than half of adults are concerned that there will be a large outbreak of Ebola inside the U.S. within the next 12 months.
It’s a good time to ask, how worried should we be? And how should we assess any level of risk?
We turn to Dr. Eden Wells, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan. And Valerie Reyna, a Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Cornell University.
Welcome to you both.
Dr. Wells, when do we begin to think that this is a legitimate fear and when is it paranoia?
DR. EDEN WELLS, University of Michigan: Well, that’s an excellent question, but one that’s difficult to answer, in that I think anybody who has a concern has — is justified to have that concern.
And, therefore, we need to address that with good information. Paranoia is probably too strong of a term. I would say that the concerns people have after all of the news cycles that we have been seeing in the last week or so, they’re coming from my own family, my colleagues, my friends, and, in all, at the end of the day, we can say today that this virus has not changed.
The risk is still low for those of us that are not involved in health care, like these two heroic nurses that were really intimately involved with the care of Mr. Duncan, and, unfortunately, became infected.
GWEN IFILL: Let me follow up with you on one more piece of that, which is, I wonder to what degree the language matters. When are these isolated cases and when is it an outbreak?
DR. EDEN WELLS: That’s a very good question.
I would say that we right now have two cases that were involved in the direct health care of this patient. We do know that this virus transmits from direct bodily contact with the person or the fluids of that person. An outbreak to — in my mind, would really mean that if the virus begins to occur beyond what we say is the secondary transmission that we’re seeing right now, the fact that these nurses became ill, that if we began to see cases that were occurring in other people in the community, that in my mind would be an outbreak.
Again, that risk for an outbreak is really very low. This has not changed in what we have been saying about this virus in the past six months.
GWEN IFILL: Valerie Reyna, how do people manage this risk, especially emotionally, psychologically, make the difference between worrying about the present and worrying about the future?
VALERIE REYNA, Cornell University: Well, there’s a great deal of psychological science on this topic.
And it’s very understandable that people would be concerned about the risk from an Ebola outbreak. People think really in terms of — in two ways about risk. They think about possibility vs. impossibility, and, of course, we have gone over that barrier psychologically. People were initially told that transmission was essentially impossible.
They were told that in good faith. And then it happened, and it happened twice. So now, psychologically, people have shifted from, this is an impossibility to, not only is it a possibility, but it’s one that’s increasing. And the human mind is keenly attuned to change, to increases in risk, as well as changes from impossible to possible.
GWEN IFILL: So, is part of the problem as you see it that by saying, for instance, in trying to calm the public last week, Dr. Frieden saying or Dr. Fauci saying this will be stopped in its tracks in the United States? Was that part of the problem in changing expectations?
VALERIE REYNA: Well, I’m not sure that that’s part of the problem. I think it’s good to reassure people that there are measures in place.
I think that the human psychological response to risk is — has multiple components. It has an emotional component to it, threat and alarm. That threat and alarm can make sense sometimes. And that’s where risk communication comes in. Whenever we have an epidemic like this or a natural disaster or an incident that has to do with terrorism, risk communication becomes a key between officials and the public.
It’s often something we take for granted. It’s a kind of invisible force, but it’s the kind of thing that connects the safety of people to the resources that we can bring to bear.
GWEN IFILL: Dr. Wells, how does the risk factor for Ebola, as you understand it, compare to risk factors for other diseases which have caused this kind of great widespread fear with — I think of AIDS in the early days or SARS or avian flu.
DR. EDEN WELLS: Oh, yes.
First off, I would like to say that I absolutely agree with our other speaker here this evening. And it’s very well said about risk communication. And we have to address the fact that this is a disease. As Ebola has been known since the mid-1970s, it’s a scary-sounding disease. It has a known high fatality rate.
It is rather gruesome in how people suffer from it, especially when they become greatly ill, if not die. And this has been in our collective consciousness, if you will, since it was first discovered in 1976.
But as it compares in terms of risk, even though this is difficult to communicate because, right now, everybody is worried because of what we’re hearing about the recent news, but, as far as risk, when I think about the diseases that we have seen transpire, HIV, avian influenza, if we think of fast scares, you know, polio, the Spanish flu, this is less transmissible, thank goodness, than many of the diseases that we speak about.
It does require the direct contact with an infected person or their body fluids. So the risk is less than the avian flu, the SARS that we have dealt with in the past. But, again, we have to be able to relay that risk in a way that people can feel more comforted, given that this is a concern, and the recent changes have increased the concern, as my fellow speaker said.
GWEN IFILL: Well, Valerie Reyna, briefly, how do you calm the fear without underestimating the risk?
VALERIE REYNA: Yes, I think that that’s very important.
I think that we really have to be open and transparent. We have to explain to people the nature of the transmission. Now, this is a very difficult challenge. You have technical information that has to get out to a wide range of people with different kinds of knowledge backgrounds. But that’s the challenge of risk communication.
There is science available that can facilitate that. People have to know how this happened, why it happened. If there’s uncertainty, and we don’t know certain causes, we have to be open about that. I think people can be reassured when they’re given information. There’s elements in here, too, that have to do with trust in government. And I think trust is fostered to the degree that we’re candid with people.
GWEN IFILL: Right.
Valerie Reyna of Cornell University, and Dr. Ellen — Eden Wells of the University of Michigan, thank you both very much.
VALERIE REYNA: Thank you, Gwen.
TRANSCRIPTGWEN IFILL: Major federal health agencies were called to account today for mistakes in handling Ebola. Lawmakers from both parties fired off criticism and questions at a hearing in Washington.REP. FRED UPTON, (R) Michigan: People’s lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable.
GWEN IFILL: Growing anxiety over the prospect of Ebola’s spread in the U.S. brought a House committee back from campaigning and put the nation’s top health officials on the firing line.
Michigan Republican Fred Upton:
REP. FRED UPTON: We’re going to hold your feet to the fire on getting the job done and getting it done right. Both the U.S. and the global health community have so far failed to put in place an effective strategy fast enough to combat the current outbreak.
GWEN IFILL: The complaints were bipartisan.
Democrat Diana DeGette of Colorado:
REP. DIANA DEGETTE, (D) Colorado: It would be an understatement to say that the response to the first U.S.-based patient with Ebola has been mismanaged, causing risk to scores of additional people.
GWEN IFILL: The hearing came amid suggestions from House Speaker John Boehner and others that limits be placed on travelers coming into the country from West Africa, where thousands have died of Ebola.
Republican Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania chaired the hearing.
REP. TIM MURPHY, (R) Pennsylvania: This is the question the American public is asking. Why are we still allowing folks to come over here and why, once they’re over here, is there no quarantine?
GWEN IFILL: But the head of the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Tom Frieden, argued a travel ban could backfire.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: If people were to come in by, for example, going over land to another country and then entering without our knowing that they were from these three countries, we would actually lose that information.
GWEN IFILL: At the White House, a spokesman said banning travel is not under consideration.
But passenger screenings have started at major international airports in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, New Jersey, and Washington. The process includes taking temperatures and handing out questionnaires to travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
At Washington Dulles Airport, some passengers felt reassured, some less so.
ERIC MORENO: Any screening in or out, I’m all for, whether it’s security for terrorism or whether it’s for health issues. Obviously, I don’t want anything brought in.
RAMYA SINGH: I don’t know how effective they will be, quite honestly, because you know where you’re coming from, but you don’t know where you have been before.
GWEN IFILL: In Dallas, questions continued about how two nurses got infected after treating a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of Ebola at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
A top hospital official appeared at today’s congressional hearing via video.
DR. DANIEL VARGA, Chief Clinical Officer, Texas Health Resources: Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes. We didn’t correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. And we are deeply sorry.
GWEN IFILL: One of the nurses, 29-year-old Amber Vinson, has now been moved to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. The other nurse, Nina Pham, is being sent to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
Later, President Obama called key congressional leaders, met with top administration officials, and authorized a call-up of the National Guard and Reserve troops if needed to help deal with the outbreak in West Africa. We will have more on the response to the Ebola threat after the news summary.