Outside the Bubble 10/30/2014

New York City Sees First Case of Ebola

Dr. Craig Spencer has been named as New York’s first resident to test positive for the Ebola virus. Now being rehabilitated in a Manhattan hospital, Dr. Spencer was in West Africa working with Doctors without Borders when he contracted the disease. After showing the symptoms of the virus, he was immediately quarantined and treated with the new plasma method that has shown signs of effectiveness.

Despite the swift diagnosis, the disease has left many New Yorkers alarmed. However, Mayor Bill de Blasio urged residents to remain calm. He said, “There is no reason for New Yorkers to change their habits in any way. New Yorkers are strong, resilient and focused, and they understand there is no cause for alarm” (NBC News, “New York Doctor With Ebola ‘Looks Better’: Official Says,” 10.26.14).

Despite Ebola becoming a buzzword, many subsequent cases of suspected Ebola have proven false. One five-year-old boy who traveled to West Africa and showed symptoms of high fever tested negative for Ebola. Another case in the Tri-State Area is in New Jersey with a nurse named Kaci Hickox, who recently returned from West Africa after treating Ebola patients. Once in New Jersey, she was confined due to the only days-old policy of the governors of New York and New Jersey, which states that all health care workers who have had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa must be quarantined. Hickox contests this regulation. She said, “This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated” (CNN, “Nurse describes Ebola quarantine ordeal: ‘I was in shock. Now I’m angry,’ 10.27.14).

Officials such as New Jersey Governor Chris Christie argue the need for government intervention. “I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system. This is government’s job. If anything else, the government’s job is to protect the safety and health of our citizens” (Fox News, “Dr. Anthony Fauci updates fight against Ebola in America; Gov. Chris Christie talks midterms, looks ahead to 2016,” 10.26.14). But the question is if this is humane enough for returning health workers who donate their time and skills to save these people in West Africa.

 

—Lisa Je, Guest Reporter

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