Time For Another Ellis Island?

top_quarantine_ellisislandThere have already been a lot of “what-ifs” and “if we’d known’s” concerning the recent Ebola outbreak and its migration to the US. Every day we’re hearing about conditions in hospitals and their readiness to treat Ebola patients. But it’s clear that while the CDC is putting on a brave front, the health workers who have been infected and even those who aren’t say our system is not ready to deal with the disease.

Given that, I fail to understand why our government isn’t taking more aggressive measures with travelers from affected countries. It’s not like we haven’t quarantined travelers before. Here’s a thorough history of Ellis Island between 1758 and 1954. It covers all the places people were taken until doctors knew that immigrants weren’t carrying plague, smallpox, or yellow fever. Shouldn’t we do the same now, for Ebola? I’m not talking about a facility as infamous as Ellis Island, btw — I do realize conditions there were pretty atrocious– but I am thinking of a quarantine in a modern, comfortable facility for a couple of weeks until it’s clear that visitors are not incubating the disease.

I hope you get that this has nothing to do with skin color, politics, or other social issues. It has everything to do with public health. It’s not discrimination to protect our country from the ravages of Ebola; it’s just common sense.

Our leaders, including Mr. Obama, the Congress, the CDC, and others surely understand this. What I don’t understand is why they keep insisting the outbreak is not going to be a problem when recent cases prove it is. How many Americans have to get sick before officials take more aggressive action? Or, given that every infected person is thought to infect two more people, is it already too late?

Our leaders are gambling with our lives.