Private Company Keeps Ebola Under Control When Liberian Government Can't


Ebola Virus
Public Library of Science

National Public Radio is reporting the great success of Firestone Tire Company in stopping the spread of the Ebola virus among its 80,000 workers on its gigantic rubber plantation in Liberia. How? By rigorously implementing basic public health measures: (1) isolating infected patients, (2) quarantining the people with whom infected patients have had contact; and (3) protecting health care workers from infection.

As NPR reports …

… in August, as the epidemic raced through the nearby capital, patients with Ebola started appearing at the one hospital and several clinics across the giant rubber plantation. The hospital isolation ward was expanded to 23 beds and a prefab annex was built. Containing Ebola became the number one priority of the company. Schools in the town, which has been closed by government decree, were transformed into quarantine centers. Teachers were dispatched for door-to-door outreach.

Hundreds of people with possible exposure to the virus were placed under quarantine. Seventy-two cases were cases reported. Forty-eight were treated in the hospital and 18 survived. By mid-September the company's Ebola treatment unit was nearly full.

As of this weekend, however, only three patients remained: a trio of boys age 4, 9 and 17….

These three boys all came from outside the plantation. So even as the worst Ebola outbreak ever recorded rages all around them, Firestone appears to have blocked the virus from spreading inside its territory.

Dr. Flannery of the CDC says a key reason for Firestone's success is the close monitoring of people who've potentially been exposed to the virus — and the moving of anyone who's had contact with an Ebola patient into voluntary quarantine.

Ebola continues to spread in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone largely because their ineffective governments cannot quarantine (either voluntarily or involuntarily) those exposed to the virus.

For more background see my article, "Disease, Public Health, and Liberty: Global diseases as a tragedy of the commons."

NEXT: Tonight on The Independents: The 30-Year War, Gay Marriage Everywhere, Pyongyang Putsch, Defending Biden, That's Your Bush!, and Aftershow

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  1. Private Company Keeps Ebola Under Control When Liberian Government Can’t

    I am totally fucking shocked. A private entity doing what government can’t? It’s never happened before!

    1. FUcking corporation – see how they CONTROL things!!!11++11111 We need GOVT to stop evil corporations keeping people alive…


    2. This is what happens when you let big, Koched-Up corporations treat people like property.

    3. I used to work for a company that, in the absence of a coherent public strategy in the event of a possible bird flu pandemic, instituted a program to supply all its employees and their families with vaccines and treatment in the event of an outbreak, to the point of stockpiling vaccines, antiviral, and other medical supplies that would become necessary.

    4. Granted, the Liberian government is an even lower standard than most…

    5. In the U.S. there are disaster centers at FEMA and Wal-Mart. Guess which one works.

      1. From my experience during Katrina….Wal-Mart.

      2. I work in food logistics, and the real time movement, redirection, and deployment of resources in the private sector during crisis is an awesome thing to behold – and yes, WalMart is fantastic at it. The best thing government can do is get out of the way in a crisis, their use of resources is extremely inefficient, poorly directed, and late.

        1. Let’s not forget that after they arrive late and ill prepared, they proceed to monopolize all forms of help, blocking out the competition.

    6. “I am totally fucking shocked. A private entity doing what government can’t? It’s never happened before!”

      So you think 310,000 Americans infected would be a good result?

      That’s the same percentage…..and about 150,000 dead here would have you cheering?

      Metrics do mean something.

    7. yeah. real hard to keep a tiny plantation isolated. Much easier to isolate everyone in an entire country. Is it April 1? As this is a most comical joke of a blog post.

      1. No, the state is the joke–and the joke’s on leftoid statist-collectivist losers like you.

  2. BTW, I saw one of those Ebolas on the road the other day when driving to work in Balmer. I think it was an Ebola.. or maybe it was a piece of twisted tubing off a car that looked like Ebola. One can never be sure when they see an Ebola on the road or jeebus in a pancake.

    1. Don’t worry, Hyperion, we’re sending troops to W. Africa to shoot those ebolas dead!

      1. For some reason, that makes me worry more.

      2. Because there’s no way they’ll bring it back with them ala Spanish Flu.

        1. Remember the Maine, to Hell with Spain(ish flu)!

    2. Could you determine if it was gluten free or not?

  3. If only Liberia had single-payer health care, even more lives would be saved!


  4. But its not *fair*.

    Firestone is only doing this to protect their profits, not because they *care* about their plantation serfs!!11! We need the strong hand of government to step in and ensure that this is done according to *intention*!

    1. We need the strong hand of government to mandate that Firestone spread its efforts outside its employees so that everyone gets an equal share of treatment.*

      *treatment that will then,the of course, be ineffective due to being spread thin over many more people than Firestone had originally planned for

  5. Ebola continues to spread in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone largely because their ineffective governments cannot quarantine (either voluntarily or involuntarily) those exposed to the virus.

    Moar government! Somalia! Roadz! Ebola!

  6. I enjoy your writings, Ron.

  7. Capitalism stops Ebola?

    Naomi Wolf would normally have an answer as to why the greedy talons of big business are raping mother earth again, and not really STOPPING A DISEASE but she’s on to bigger things now, like faked Youtube beheadings.

    The insane conspiracy theories of Naomi Wolf

    Haha, read the comments for laughs too. Good times. Or bad, pending your outlook.

    1. Where are you seeing comments? Vox has no comments, AFAIK.

      I wish Naomi Wolf wasn’t insane, because she’s a total babe. Hubba-hubba.

      1. I meant in the link to Wolf’s Facebook page statement. Conspiracies galore.


  8. “None of us had any Ebola experience,” he says. They scoured the Internet for information about how to treat Ebola. They cleared out a building on the hospital grounds and set up an isolation ward. They grabbed a bunch of hazmat suits for dealing with chemical spills at the rubber factory and gave them to the hospital staff. The suits worked just as well for Ebola cases.

    That’s not how you do it! You’re suppose to call the CDC first! Who do you think you are, MacGyver?

    1. I was reading the SF Chron e-edition last week and I can’t remember the article, but one commenter posted to the effect that “It’s all about the money! Politics come second in this capitalistic…(more bullshit)”
      Uh, yeah, Money is what buys food for you and your family along with a place to live.
      Politics is the sewage treatment plant, dog catcher and cops.
      You BET money comes first!

  9. This is unpossible !!! headinass told me the other day that corporations make more profits when they kill their employee’s !!! The capital incentive just does not add up !!!

    1. I’m sure working in plantations in the tropics is a regular workers paradise!

      Why, according to your views, it sounds like they probably have cars, houses, indoor plumbing and central air! High speed internet?

      Let’s check it out…..

      “In 1926, Firestone Tire & Rubber Company signed a 99-year contract with the government to lease one million acres for the establishment of a rubber plantation. The total area represents 4% of Liberia’s territory and nearly 10% of its arable land.”

      Check – Libertarian Paradise!

      “There are also approximately another 4,000 laborers who work for the company with no legal status hence with no benefits from the company”
      Check! Another part of Paradise!

      “The tappers work every day of the year including national holidays, with the exception of Christmas day”

      Ah, the free market!

      “the tapper is paid US/$125. Out of the monthly wage of US/$125, he may have to pay one or two sub-contractors who helped him tap.”

      YES! Koch heaven!

      “Houses are one room, lack electricity, pipe-borne water, indoor latrines, indoor kitchens, living rooms and ceilings. Roofed haphazardly with asbestos, many of these structures now leak profusely.”

      1. @craiginmass:
        Since you are clearly Sinead O’Connor, let me explain market economics to you.

        Without firestone and their quest for profits, there would be no company town built around the thousands of jobs it created. Without employment, which is voluntary, even in corrupt shitholes like Liberia, they would be living in crappy huts that they would have had to make and pay for with their own meager subsistence income as sharecroppers or whatever else there is for work in pre-firestone Liberia. If their jobs involved cleaning up shit from the bathrooms of the executives, it was a job that obviously paid more than their previous job as they volunteered for it. Or, they earned a fraction of what we earn in the US to make tires and they have a job with a corporation that also pays benefits, solves ebola outbreaks, and provides individual wealth on a scale that citizens in developing countries never saw without the far reaching hand of capitalism.

        I’m afraid you are going to have to admit that for profit corporations are, on the whole, better for the economies and standards of livings of populations all over the world.

        Please tell the audience what you do for a living and explain your motivation for making your own money. I will then proceed to pick apart your ignorant assertions and prove that you are indeed a capitalist too.

  10. Sure people may not be dying from a horrible disease where you bleed out of your eyes, but Firestone is making a profit here. !@#$ing evil corporations.

  11. I am shocked…..

    Only a couple dozen deaths and a double that number of infections in a population of 80,000!

    And they used the Big Gubment advice to create this amazing result!

    Taking that to the scale of the USA, we’d have “only” about a 1/10th of a percent infection rates and about 1/2 of those would die….

    That means 310,000 infections and about 160,000 dead.

    Let me know when we get there in the USA…then I’ll ask for the Kochs to take over.

    1. “And they used the Big Gubment advice to create this amazing result!”

      Citation ?

      1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chevrolet_Citation

        it’s a better citation than you’ll get from him.

        1. Thanx buddy. That looks like my next rat rod. =)

    2. You are missing a part of the point.

      Would 310,000 infections and about 160,000 dead be a tragedy here? Yes, and nobody would argue otherwise.

      However, you are missing an important difference between the compound epidemic at large.

      “As of this weekend, however, only three patients remained.”

      “moving of anyone who’s had contact with an Ebola patient into voluntary quarantine.”

      At Large:
      “World Health Organization researchers issued a dire new forecast for the Ebola epidemic Tuesday, one that sees 20,000 cases by November, much sooner than previous estimates…”

      “… it’s looking so bad that Ebola could take permanent hold in West Africa…”

      “In some places, residents still don’t believe Ebola is a virus, and they have attacked and even killed health workers trying to spread the word about the danger.”

      “many are given little more than a bed or a space on the floor, and many are also turned away to die at home or in the streets.”

      “Classic ‘outbreak control’ efforts are no longer sufficient for an epidemic of this size.”

      (Cite: NBC Story: Ebola Death Rate 70 Percent, WHO Says in Dire New Forecast)

      Is 160,000 potential deaths an absolute disaster? Unprecendented in this country? Yes. But it is a HELL of a lot better than the open-ended, potentially permanent, massively expensive, seemingly unstopable mess that it has become even worse?

      You bet your favorite vintage Che Guavera t-shirt it is.

  12. Firestone failed to ask permission. I’m sure they’ll be punished appropriately by the international community.

    And, of course, among the first comments on the NPR site is, of course, someone who is Very Concerned about the Gaia-Raping Profits. And, by the way, those uppity God-bothering medical volunteers trying to save those backward brown people’s lives – have they been vetted for proper credentials?

    1. “Very Concerned about the Gaia-Raping Profits.”

      It’s too bad that this person never looked into how natural rubber is harvested.

      Put down that maple syrup !!! You are putting Gaia Rape on your waffles !!!

        1. They signed a concession agreement with the government of Liberia to lease over one million acres of land in 1926 for 6 cents per acre for a period of 99 years. In 2005, Firestone signed a new 37-year agreement with a transitional government in Liberia to lease the land for 50 cents per acre.

            1. Was there a coercive government involved ?
              Yes there was.

              1. headinass. You do realize that when there is a war, civil, or otherwise, and a government needs resources, regulations get thrown out the window, and workers get screwed. The Liberian government made that deal with Firestone, not the people who could have made more of a profit selling their product under a free market. It also does not change the fact that Bridgestone pays it’s employee’s in rice, and medical aid, because the Liberian government cannot stabilize it’s own fucking currency.

                1. The Liberian government sold it’s own people into indentured servitude, and you still think more, and bigger government is the answer to all of societies problems ???
                  I call you headinass for a reason.

                  1. Also you did not address how Rubber tree’s, Maple Tree’s, and OMG !!! Hybrid Poplars, or GASP !! Maybe Genetically Modified Tree’s could solve some of our world’s problems !!!

                    1. The Amish, Mennonites, Africans, and Native Americans could never develop relationships with Scientist’s in order to improve their lives. They need some asshole from western Massachusetts to tell them how to do it !!!!

                  2. “The Liberian government sold it’s own people into indentured servitude, ”

                    Wow, so you agree that Firestone and other corporations, given the “libertarian freedoms” (no min wage, no standards) will do that???


                    You guy are totally clueless about both human nature and politics. That’s why modern Libertarianism has to be pushed with billions of Koch money…because it’s theme simply don’t appeal to people.

                    The Koch’s and their friends were too busy with the John Birch Society to have any real insight into modern society.

                    1. Is there a Koch is evil seance that you people go too. Free markets mean no coercion with government. if the Koch brothers collude with government to protect their business, then they do not believe in free market capitalism.

                      And by the way, I’m sure firestone colluded with the Liberian government to make things happen there over time. So what, the profit motive in this case still provided for far better living standards than previously enjoyed in that dump.

                      You have no clue what free markets are.
                      You are a zombie.

  13. Wow. they kept a tiny little plantation safe from ebola. And you are really comparing that to keeping an entire country safe? LOL. Really!?!?

    1. “Wow. they kept a tiny little plantation safe from ebola. And you are really comparing that to keeping an entire country safe? LOL. Really!?!?”

      These guys correlate their wanking to Old Faithful at Yellowstone!

      1. Turd.Burglar.

        1. Craiginmass ate Rachel maddow’s nasty snatch and became her.

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