President Obama signs Executive Order on Ebola, right-wing heads explode

If you haven’t heard about the Ebola virus victims (both U.S. citizens) being returned from Liberia to the U.S. for treatment, here’s your chance.

Two American healthcare workers, infected with Ebola in Liberia while working an at Ebola treatment center operated by two U.S. faith-based organizations, will be traveling to the U.S. this week and undergoing treatment in a special isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.  Bruce Ribner, an infectious-diseases doctor and head of the isolation unit at Emory University Hospital, has said that “the transfer would be safe.”  Another infectious disease specialist, Richard Wenzel, emeritus professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University, agreed that the bodily fluids of these victims are “highly infectious,” but said that they also “have a better chance of survival in a U.S. facility than in a health-care facility that may not be equipped with the latest supportive-care equipment or techniques.”

We probably can do a little bit more here with our ability to give critical-care support,  We have a culture here for general infection control that is sophisticated.

A little back story:  Presidents periodically take executive action to update Executive Order 13295, the list of Quarantinable Communicable Diseases.  President Bush updated it by Executive Order in 2003, for example, to add “Cholera; Diphtheria; infectious Tuberculosis; Plague; Smallpox; Yellow Fever; and Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers (Lassa, Marburg, Ebola, Crimean-Congo, South American, others not yet isolated or named . . . [and] . . . Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).”  The amendments to 13295 give the CDC and the government the right to quarantine individuals when they present with symptoms of diseases which could lead to a pandemic.  It’s not new – hell, this country has been quarantining people capable of spreading infectious diseases for a very long time.

In keeping with the practices of presidents before him, particularly when certain diseases pose a serious risk to public health, President Obama amended Executive Order 13295 to add the symptoms of Ebola, which, according to,

. . . can begin with fever and nausea and progress to internal bleeding, has been known to kill up to 90% of those it infects. It spreads through contact with bodily fluids. There is no vaccine or cure.  Patients aren’t infectious until they are sick—and even when they begin to develop symptoms, they aren’t highly infectious, experts say. The most contagious patients are those who are very sick and unlikely to be moving around much, they say.

But damned if right -wing heads don’t explode with this “imperial president” having the gall to sign an Executive Order which would permit certain potentially infectious citizens to be quarantined.  Screamed

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Imagine that:  President Obama amending an Executive Order to prevent a pandemic.  Actually listing symptoms of the communicable disease.  And, more horrifying than that, giving the CDC and the government the right to quarantine individuals suspected of carrying the disease.

To hear the above whack jobs tell it, you cough, you’re under locked guard immediately.  What they don’t mention is that in order for any of us to be at serious risk for Ebola, we have to have traveled to West Africa, or been exposed to someone who has traveled to West Africa.  As reported by,

U.S. officials said the risk of spread in the U.S., by contrast, is low. ‘For our own situation, where we are able to get good information out, explain how Ebola spreads, where we have isolation capacity and health departments, it isn’t a potential of Ebola spreading widely in the U.S.,’ CDC Director Tom Frieden told reporters Thursday. ‘That is not in the cards.'”

It’s not terribly likely any tea partiers or right-wing whack jobs are going to be traveling to West Africa, so they’re probably gonna be fine.  But only they could condemn a president for taking affirmative action to prevent a pandemic in the U.S.