Ebola

Hey CDC: "You have one job. Try doing it." (Ebola Edition)

|

Instapundit Glenn Reynolds, writing in USA Today, notes that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has done a pretty weak job of handling the ebola outbreak and a host of other tasks. Reynolds lays the blame on the agency's multitasking. Originally created to handle infectious diseases, the CDC has been charged with all sorts of other things. Such as:

In 2014, the CDC received (together with the Public Health Service and related programs) $6.8 billion. But not all of that money went to infectious diseases. In addition to the CDC's supposed raison d'etre, there were programs for:

  • Chronic disease prevention (obesity, heart disease, etc): fiscal 2014 budget approximately $1 billion, or just under 15% of the total budget.
  • Birth defects: $132 million, or just about 2% of the total budget.
  • Environmental health (asthma, safe water, etc): $179 million, 2.6% of total.
  • Injury prevention (domestic violence, brain injury, etc): $150 million, 2.2% of total.
  • Public health services (statistics, surveillance, etc): $482 million, 7% of total.
  • Occupational safety (mostly research): $332 million, 5% of total.
Mediaite.com

Concludes Reynolds:

In an era where new disease threats look to be growing, the CDC needs to drop the side jobs and focus on its real reason for existence. But, alas, the problem isn't just the CDC. It's everywhere.

It seems that as government has gotten bigger, and accumulated more and more of its own ancillary responsibilities, it has gotten worse at its primary tasks. …

Multitasking results in poorer performance for individuals. It also hurts the performance of government agencies, and of government itself. You have one job. Try doing it.

Whole thing.

Advertisement

NEXT: Supreme Court Refuses to Hear Gay Marriage Cases from Virginia, Oklahoma, Utah, Wisconsin, and Indiana

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. But hectoring people about gun control is so much more fulfilling than working on actual disease outbreaks.

    1. Heck yeah. Job security: find an unanswerable question, and study it.

  2. Well, to be fair, there haven’t been any severe outbreaks recently and government must grow to justify its existence.

    1. Ebola really does so far seem to be pretty hard to spread and much less of a threat to become a real pandemic than some people thought. That said, the government has fucked this thing up at every level. They can’t properly quarantine, they are too in love with the politics of immigration to ban anyone coming from the infected area or even prevent sick people from coming here.

      The day there is an actual no shit pandemic, and there will be one some day, we are fucked. This whole thing proves that our government cannot do the basic function of protecting the public from a pandemic. Ebola not being a pandemic just means we got to see how bad our government has gotten without too many people dying. Eventually, however, we won’t get such a break.

      1. It’s spreading throughout west Africa faster than it ever has before. Personally, that graph is starting to look more and more to me like a hockey stick.

        Yes, west Africa is a big shithole, but that’s hardly some new phenomenon.

        1. Time will tell. Maybe it is a real pandemic. I was just being optimistic. If it is a real pandemic, with this government, we are fucked.

          1. The important criteria is whether Ebola can jump from a third world to a first world country and keep it high rate of infection. If we see hundreds of thousands of infected African’s, we are going to see hundreds of infected people making their way to the first world.

            1. It’ll be seen in Europe before the US.

      2. But see? Even EBOLA! wasn’t bad enough to tax our health care system! La la la la!

      3. Ebola really does so far seem to be pretty hard to spread

        Time will tell.

        It spreads by “direct contact”, meaning for example, that if you grab a doorknob that a transmissible Ebola victim contaminated two days ago, you’ve got live virus on your skin and its just a rubbed eye or bit fingernail away from you.

        Oh, and nobody is talking (yet) about how its also an STD.

        Good news: the window of transmissibility is relatively short (the few weeks between going symptomatic and dying).

        Bad news: early symptoms can look a lot like the flu or similar, so you can be walking around symptomatic for days before its easy to say “Ebola” rather than “bad shrimp” or “flu”.

        1. As I said, time will tell. It does however seem pretty clear that if Ebola is a pandemic, we are fucked.

        2. It spreads by “direct contact”, meaning for example, that if you grab a doorknob that a transmissible Ebola victim contaminated two days ago, you’ve got live virus on your skin and its just a rubbed eye or bit fingernail away from you.

          You have a citation for that?

          I was under the impression it was only through bodily fluids and was harder to contract than AIDS.

          1. I read the other day that it will stay in a man’s seamen for up the three months after he has recovered from the illness.

            I wonder if perhaps it doesn’t for some reason effect everyone severely. Maybe people are getting it and are able to fight it off thinking they just have the flue only to become carriers of it. That would explain why it seems to be spreading so much in Africa.

            1. Human-to-human transmission can occur via direct contact with blood or bodily fluids from an infected person (including embalming of an infected dead person) or by contact with objects contaminated by the virus, particularly needles and syringes.[17] Other body fluids with ebola virus include saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen. Entry points include the nose, mouth, eyes, or open wounds, cuts and abrasions. [18] The potential for widespread EVD infections is considered low as the disease is only spread by direct contact with the secretions from someone who is showing signs of infection.[17] The symptoms limit a person’s ability to spread the disease as they are often too sick to travel.[19] Because dead bodies are still infectious, local traditional burial rituals may spread the disease.[20] Nearly two thirds of the cases of Ebola in Guinea during the 2014 outbreak are believed to be due to burial practices.[21] Semen may be infectious in survivors for up to 3 months.[22] It is not entirely clear how an outbreak is initially started.[23] The initial infection is believed to occur after ebola virus is transmitted to a human by contact with an infected animal’s body fluids.

              Wiki FWIW.

              1. For me it keeps coming back to the fact that Africa has some pretty fucked up hygiene practices that thankfully don’t exist here. While this is certainly a horrible tragedy for Africa, I am still skeptical that it will ever be anything more than a media scare in this country.

                1. Agreed. I worry about this at about the same level I worry about getting pneumonia.

                  But it sells air time.

                2. Africa has some pretty fucked up hygiene practices that thankfully don’t exist here.

                  Like hosing off the infected guy’s vomit on the sidewalk without wearing any PPE or isolating the area?

                  1. Hosing off? I doubt it.

              2. Here’s that citation you were asking for–

                Other body fluids with ebola virus include saliva, mucus, vomit, feces, sweat, tears, breast milk, urine, and semen. Entry points include the nose, mouth, eyes, or open wounds, cuts and abrasions.

                1. Yea but sweat doesn’t stay in fluid form for two days. Or two hours. Or likely two minutes.

            2. One of the problems they’re having in Liberia is that no one cleans up the bodies of people who die outside, and dogs are eating parts of them and becoming disease vectors. There’s a lot of poor hygiene practices in the region.

            3. …stay in a man’s seamen… just have the flue…

              If that seaman goes up her flue…

          2. According to the CDC before they edited their web-page:

            Because we still do not know exactly how people are infected with Ebola, few primary prevention measures have been established and no vaccine exists.

            When cases of the disease do appear, risk of transmission is increased within healthcare settings. Therefore, healthcare workers must be able to recognize a case of Ebola and be ready to use practical viral hemorrhagic fever isolation precautions or barrier nursing techniques. They should also have the capability to request diagnostic tests or prepare samples for shipping and testing elsewhere.

            I don’t we or anybody else can really answer your question.

            1. Okay. They edited OUT the part that said:

              Because we still do not know exactly how people are infected with Ebola

              Could it simply be they DO know how people are infected?

              1. sure, I guess you can’t discount that as a possibility.

          3. You have a citation for that?

            http://www.foxnews.com/health/…..nsmission/

            Ebola can live outside of the body ? on surfaces like countertops or doorknobs, for example ? for several hours. In bodily fluids like blood, on the other hand, the virus can survive outside of the body for several days at room temperature.

            1. It may survive for several hour on a countertop, but I don’t think it spreads this way.

              From your own citations:

              The disease is transmitted only through direct contact with bodily fluids from a person who has exhibited symptoms.

              Direct contact occurs when bodily fluids? such as blood, saliva, mucus, vomit, urine or feces? from an infected person, dead or alive, have touched another person’s eyes, nose, mouth or an open cut, wound or abrasion, according to the CDC.

              Needs to be fluid. Infected fluid needs to touch my fluid.

          4. It was my understanding that most viruses don’t survive for long outside of a host. Can Ebola really survive for days on a doorknob? From what I’ve heard about it, it is a large and complicated virus, so that seems unlikely.

            1. They don’t. They can survive a little longer on a hard surface if there are droplets of moisture.

              There are rare cases of viruses which can last a disturbingly long time, such as the Norovirus which, as I understand contains itself in a protein shell and can last up to 7 days on a hard surface without moisture. Which is why norovirus is so damned contagious and virulent.

              They’ve closed a couple of schools here during breakouts. One kid has it, the next day three, the next day nine, the next day 27 etc.

        3. So basically, you feel a little under the weather and then bam, it hits you hard and your dead. Are we talking about QE/ZPIR or Ebola?

  3. Sorry Glenn and Nick but the CDC doesn’t do that job anymore. They don’t do the down and dirty job of actually presenting disease. The CDC has long since been taken over by Progs. And Progs make any organization they take over into an instrument of prog politics. Stopping disease doesn’t advance Prog politics, so it isn’t done anymore. What the CDC does now is things that advance prog politics like soda bans and gun control and the like.

    1. The CDC banned soda? Wow, your grasp of reality has descended into the shithouse.

      1. Reading comprehension fail asshole

        And here’s their take on soda

        Action items to improve the overallschool nutrition environment (beverages and foods) include

        Supporting strong state and district school nutrition standards for foods and beverages offered or sold outside of school meals, such as those recommended by the Institute of Medicine.

        Reviewing district-level school wellness policies to ensure they include nutrition guidelines so that only healthy foods and beverages are available during each school day.

        1. Shreek is profoundly mentally disabled as they say. So no, he is just not big on that whole reading and thinking. He is, however, and excellent driver and love Wopner.

      2. Ready for your beloved democrats to get their asses handed to them at the polls Davey boy? One more month.

  4. Don’t forget tobacco-free sports

    1. *facepalm*

      Nothing. Left. To. Cut.

  5. +1 NASA Muslim Outreach Program

  6. I would put as many government workers as is humanly possible on this problem and then when they all contract ebola quarantine the lot of them for the next decade somewhere deep in that hateful place called Texas.

    1. Pay thousands of people tens of millions of dollars to avoid giving the simple answer “don’t let sick people into the country and if they do somehow get in, isolate them from everyone else”.

      1. Can’t do that. That’s racist.

      2. HIV kind of changed everything. It’s an interesting debate on whether we can forcibly detain people who have contracted highly infectious diseases and pose a threat by simply walking around, but in this case the people in question aren’t even us citizens. This is a no brainer especially when people are getting thrown into prison for having spagetios mistaken as meth.

        1. It is legally at least not a debate at all. State and local governments have broad quarantine powers. And they use these powers fairly regularly. You just don’t hear about it much because it involves single individuals and diaereses like drug resistant TB that don’t’ get the kind of media coverage Ebola is getting.

          People with drug resistant TB are put on no fly lists and not allowed in the country. And when the airline fucks up and puts them on a plan anyway, which happens, they are immediately taken to a hospital and quarantined under state law upon arrival. This happens a few times a year in this country.

          1. I’ve heard of people getting forcibly locked up because they hung out or just were around someone with tb. Why the fuck is this treated differently? Is it just forcible quarantine would look bad due to the national coverage or just incompetence and literally no contingency plan for Ebola even getting here.

            1. It is being treated differently because our government if fucking nuts. Seriously, it is nuts. This is coming from Africa and the progs in our government can’t bring themselves to lock up brown people. If Ebola were coming out of rural Georgia the entire state would be locked down right now and anyone trying to leave would be shot on sight. The whole thing is fucking insane.

              1. Very true.

    1. They do like to lose smallpox, bird-flu, and anthrax samples too…

  7. CDC=FEMA.

    Throw in the whole IRS thing, and multiply by a thousand and you get our government in a nutshell. And yet WE’RE the crazy extremists. Basically, the government priests can rodger whomever they want in the rectory, and the blind adherents demand more, and HATE the messenger for pointing out the proverbial “little billy” is going to have whistling farts for the rest of his life.

    THIS is what Jefferson was talking about when he said you need revolution every 75 years or so. It’s the parasites who will use government not to protect people, but for largesse.

  8. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has done a pretty weak job of handling the ebola outbreak and a host of other tasks. Reynolds lays the blame on the agency’s multitasking.

    Hey now, I started asking this question YEARS ago here, where public health agencies nation-wide wouldn’t know how, or even care to doing stuff like shutting down the Broad Street Pump, because they were too busy hectoring the public over salt, trans fats and obesity.

  9. You know, reading that article made me think, branding-wise, that “focused government” would probably sell to the rubes a lot better than “limited government” or “small government”. A lot of people will proudly admit to wanting big or unbounded government these days (sadly), but I still think there aren’t too many that would openly say they like to see it flailing around like a whatever-the-current-euphemisism-is-for-retard.

    1. Until you suggest actually eliminating programs or initiatives.

      1. Which is why you don’t. You save that shit for after the election.

    2. That is not a sales pitch to the rubes. It is the truth. Government can only do a few things well. It can’t do everything and the more it tries to do the worse it does at any one thing. So the question is what do you want your government to do? Do you want it doing things like controlling contagious diseases and convicting and imprisoning violent criminals who are a real threat or do you want them doing shit like trying to make sure no one has a soda in a school lunch or takes an extra pain pill? That is the choice we have it is just no politician wants to tell the truth and admit it.

      1. “Government can only do a few things well.” I used to think this but more and more I’m thinking they do nothing well at best they are a scratch.

        1. It can do a few things that no one else can do at all. Whether that counts as “well” or not is a relative question.

          I do think that our government did at least once enforce the law well and run the courts and defend the borders and things like that. The fact that it can’t do any of those things now is a product of it trying to do everything and it being run by Progs who literally cannot do anything but seize power competently.

          1. Why waste resources on investigating crime when you can prevent crime?

            The more crime you prevent, the less crime there is to investigate!

            Why bother to investigate any crime at all?

            Put all your resources into crime prevention, and there won’t be any crime to investigate!

            Intentions are magic!

            1. Teach criminals not to crime!

        2. They aren’t even good at doing nothing well.

          1. They are very bad at that. It’s really one of the biggest flaws of government generally; doing something is always preferred to doing nothing.

        3. Killing people.

          Governments are really, really, really good at killing people.

    3. I still think there aren’t too many that would openly say they like to see it flailing around like a…

      The term you’re looking for is Wacky Waving Inflatable Arm Flailing Tube Man.

  10. It seems that as government has gotten bigger, and accumulated more and more of its own ancillary responsibilities, it has gotten worse at its primary tasks.

    The hell you say. How many times did the SEC investigate Bernie Madoff and find that everything was fine? How many real crimes go unsolved, often with no real investigation? And no matter how bad it gets, the majority always want more. It’s like an entire electorate with battered wife syndrome.

    1. It is a large minority (45%) with battered wife syndrome, and 6% who are the batterers.

  11. They just need more money. If it wasn’t for all those Teathuglitarian skinflints in Congress, there would be no disease. Anywhere.

    1. If the vicious Teathuglicans had done more than triple funding for the CDC, they could have handled this better.

      1. I get the awful feeling that Krugabe is typing an article as we speak that blames ebola on austerity.

        1. Or maybe how Ebola will be a boon to the economy like an alien invasion.

  12. Why are we sending troops there? Are they going to be quarinteened for two weeks before leave time when they visit their homes all over the US?

  13. Yeah, I love how we simultaneously say “Ebola is a budding pandemic so bad that we must deploy thousands of troops to stop it” and “Ebola? Pssht. What a big nothing. No need to even have travel restrictions”.

    1. “Everything is fine; nothing to worry about here. Why, it’s almost impossible for this virus to even spread.”

      “Then how come you’re wearing a space suit?”

      “Errrrr, shut up you peasant! I went to Harvard Medical School.”

  14. Reynolds illustrates an important point: more money can lead to *worse* results.

  15. Government in the modern era has – it seems – only one job:
    The accretion of power.
    Unfortunately, the only thing they seem to be able to do with it is to diminish the Rights of the Governed.

    We Do Not Consent!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.