Online Opinion Outpost: Oct. 21, 2014


The Online Opinion Outpost features opinions and commentary on the latest hot topics from national news sources. As much as you love hearing from The Universe, we thought you might like to hear from journalists around the nation.

CDC blunders
The New York Times

The Ebola cases in the United States show that American hospitals and public health officials have much to learn about effective ways to protect health care workers and the public from possible infection.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital failed to protect two nurses, who had cared for the Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan, from becoming infected. Perhaps more alarming are the stumbles by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the lead federal agency for fighting infectious diseases.
One of the nurses, who was monitoring her own temperature, called the C.D.C. and was allowed to take a commercial flight from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth even though she had a slight fever, which did not violate current guidelines. That was an incredible lapse in judgment by the C.D.C.
This incident shows that the C.D.C. needs to lower the fever threshold in its guidance and advise against any travel on public forms of transportation for 21 days by people who have potentially been exposed to the virus.
There is more the agency ought to do. It should be increasing the rigor of its guidelines on protective clothing for health care workers, hospital readiness, and training on the handling of Ebola cases. President Obama said on Thursday evening that he is considering appointing an “Ebola czar” to manage the government’s response.


Fossil fuels
Byron York, The Washington Examiner

A number of Democrats and liberal commentators have attacked Republicans lately for declining to state flatly that human activity is causing climate change. The accusation is that GOP lawmakers are denying science because they are in the pocket of the coal industry, or the oil and gas industry, or the Koch brothers, or in some other way in thrall to energy billionaires.
In the first Louisiana Senate debate, held in Shreveport on Tuesday night, Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu pointed to another way. Yes, human activity is contributing to climate change, Landrieu said. But no, there’s no reason to do anything about it, beyond expanding Louisiana’s fossil fuels industry. Here is the question, and Landrieu’s answer, in full:
LANDRIEU: Yes, I do believe our climate is changing, and I do believe that humans contribute. However, we have to be very careful about the policies that we promote. I am a strong promoter of fossil fuels, yes, natural gas particularly, because it is a 50 percent cleaner burning fuel. We have 200 years of it. America could do itself a great service, and increase our security, by promoting more domestic energy exploration and production.


The CDC chief
Ford Vox, CNN

This week Thomas Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, stepped up to the microphone and took responsibility for the worst mistake in Dallas’ Ebola-stricken hospital: its utter lack of preparedness.
After insisting for months that any U.S. hospital could handle an Ebola case by following CDC guidelines, Frieden now wishes he had provided Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with the robust CDC clinical support team it desperately needed to care for Thomas Eric Duncan — the first of three people to be diagnosed with Ebola on American soil.
Frieden has been playing catch-up for too long.
Frieden is clearly a good man and will go on to do good things. But the President must now choose someone better attuned to the crisis leadership role that has overtaken the rest of the CDC director’s job description.


Panic pandemic
David Ignatius, The Washington Post

You could feel a shiver of panic coursing through the American body politic this week as the country struggled with a metastatic set of crises: the spread of the Ebola virus, the surge of Islamic State terrorists and the buckling global economy.
Panic is a natural human response to danger, but it’s one that severely compounds the risk. Frightened people want to protect themselves, sometimes without thinking about others. Often, they get angry and want to find someone to blame for catastrophe. Inevitably, they spread information without checking whether it’s true.
Fear brings out the best in some people and the worst in others. It’s a test of character, for individuals and nations. Amazon may be offering books with titles like “Ebola: The Ultimate Survival Guide.” But the best advice for now is what Smith offered viewers: Don’t panic. And get a flu shot.

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