Saturday, 11 October 2014

The Reality of Ebola in America

I noticed in the travel news for this morning....five US airports have adapted a Ebola test, which is mandated for entry into the US.  They ask a few questions over where you were, and if you might have come into contact with some infected guy.....then they take a temperature reading.

Refusing the test?  That's the curious thing.  The federal guideline listed.....said that if you refuse....you go to quarantine.  It didn't say where, or describe the living conditions there....but they'd have federal authority at these airports to accomplish this.

There are around two hundred 'international' airports in the United States.  Huntsville (sadly) qualifies as one.  Ketchikan, Alaska....oddly enough....qualifies as one.  Idaho doesn't have a single one.

Which five get the authority for this test and quarantine deal?  Dulles, JFK, Atlanta, Chicago, and Newark.  How'd they get to this idea?  The CDC says they studied the numbers of Africans coming into the US....and these five get roughly ninety-odd percent of the inflow from the affected region.

What the CDC hints at....is that the Border Patrol folks will continue to be the first line of defense, and likely be the ones who ask the questions, and pull up some measurement device to check your temperature.  Somewhere in the background....if you read their commentary enough....there will be a couple of CDC guys standing there and waiting.  Full-up suits and protective gear in reserve?  Yeah, I'd take a guess that this will be the case.

After a twelve-hour flight....you get tired and frustrated.  You walk off the plane and find yourself in a waiting area with seven-hundred folks already there and another two-thousand folks coming down the hallway.  Your Border Patrol folks?  On this lucky day....there might be ten guys handling things....MAX.  You wait and wait.

As you get up to the front, this guy asks four stupid questions, and you answer one wrong because you really aren't thinking clearly or grasping what he means.  Suddenly, you can tell he's freaking a bit, and aiming some laser-light device at you and you freak out.  The marginal AC unit isn't cooling well, and you are over-dressed, and you show some body temperature just above normal.

Sarge now raises an arm and two CDC guys come up to seize you.  You stand in some room ten minutes later, and trying to get calmed down.  A fed guy isn't too happy with your attitude, and starts talking quarantine.....if you don't confess.  You confess your mortal sins.....your various affairs.....your tax-avoidance over ten years.....and your favorite episode of Gilligan's Island.  Nothing seems to work.

An hour later....you get stuffed into a plastic bag of sorts.....thrown on a truck with no AC in the midst of July in Atlanta.  You end up in some old Army post where some guys in plastic suits take your bag and will issue you some hospital outfit.  You refuse.....they rough you up and cite such-and-such CDC rule.  You ask for a lawyer.....they deny you a lawyer.

You pick up your cellphone to call grandma or Uncle Percy to get you out of this fix.  They stop you and cite another CDC rule.  Eventually, they contact grandma, Uncle Percy, and your wife.  All that they will say is that you are safe and in good hands....with a cot, and three meals a day.  They promise to release you in three weeks.....if you don't show Ebola.

The meals are crap.  The cot has bed-bugs.  The tent has mice running around.  The latrine facility is cleaned once a day by a guy named Jose, who is illegally in the country but paid $4,000 a month to be the sanitation guy for the camp.  The camp has some psycho gal who yells and screams half the time......which you figure she's bi-polar and off her meds.  The camp guards will sell you beer but it's three bucks a can.  There's some Army National Guard chaplain who comes around daily to pray for you, but you get the feeling that he's working more for the CDC folks than you.

On day nineteen of the twenty-one day period....some new guy arrives from Liberia who answered the questions wrong.  He seems OK, and very friendly.....knowing the Braves results from this year, and absolutely convinced that Bush was a better President than Obama.  You notice some sweat on his brow but blow it off....it's just hot in the tent.

Day twenty-one, you get released.  They basically drop you off at the Greyhound station in town, and you ride nineteen hours back to the final destination....home.  You curse over and over about that damn CDC thing.  You call your Congressman and Senator.....demanding pain and suffering money (mostly $50,000).

Nine days later.....you get the fever and sweats.  Doctor at the hospital asks where you been, and you note a quarantine camp.  All heck breaks out.....they rush more CDC guys to the room, and ambulance you off to the next quarantine camp.

If you didn't have it the first time around.....you sure got it this time.

That's how things work in America.  We make movies about this type of adventure, and talk about it as a joke....until it happens to us.

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