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Friday, October 28, 2016

By the time you read this, it’s likely another politician has flashed his Doctors Without Degrees membership card and decreed another mandate that does nothing but fuel misinformation about Ebola.

Nothing is more contagious than unwarranted fear.

I was going to cite breaking news from The New York Times, but Andy Borowitz’s satire for The New Yorker offers a stellar illustration of what has unfolded in the days since three health care workers — only one of them returning from West Africa — were diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, population 316.1 million.

Dateline Trenton, N.J.: “Saying that he was ‘sick and tired of having my medical credentials questioned,’ Governor Chris Christie (R-NJ) had himself sworn in as a medical doctor on Sunday night.”

Borowitz, by the way, went to Shaker Heights High School, which is where my daughter went and my niece Marcia is currently enrolled. Marcia’s field hockey team just won the district finals and is headed for the state finals.

None of this, of course, has anything to do with the science of Ebola. See? I, too, could be governor of New Jersey and order a nurse with no symptoms to be held hostage in a tent without a shower or flushable toilet.

About that: Nurse Kaci Hickox, after returning from Sierra Leone, had no symptoms of Ebola, but she did have the nerve to volunteer with Doctors Without Borders and to fly her philanthropic self in to Newark Liberty International Airport, where her liberty was immediately suspended. Ignoring the evolving CDC and White House directives and the evidence that Hickox wasn’t sick, Christie channeled his inner blowhard — sigh, again — and ordered her to be quarantined in a tent until she really, really showed no symptoms of the disease.

To the delight of rational minds, Hickox chose not to suffer in silence. She told her story to The Dallas Morning News and CNN and shared photos, too, of her new home. (Dear newsroom art directors who always hound me: You’re right. Sometimes there’s nothing like a visual to drive that baby home.)

Five days later, Christie relented and allowed Hickox to return to her home state of Maine. Not a reversal, he insisted, no, no, no. As The New York Times reported, Christie compared Hickox’s plight to the common inconveniences of air travel.

“Any of us have seen people who are traveling and they’ve been stopped,” he said. “Whether they’re late for a plane or whatever they’re doing, they get upset and angry.”

Excellent analogy.

I know that every time I’ve been inconvenienced at the airport in recent weeks, I immediately think, “Here we go again. Just like being held against my will in an Ebola tent.”

Delayed flight? Ebola.

No spicy tomato juice on the flight? Ebola.

Husband fails to text pronto after I land to see whether I arrived safely? Ebola. Definitely.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo joined Christie — there was a picture — to trumpet his own Ebola guidelines. He instituted a mandatory quarantine, too. Three days later, New York City officials charged with implementing it said they still had no idea how they were supposed to do that.

A New England Journal of Medicine editorial blasted New Jersey, New York and other states for a mandatory quarantine policy that “is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal. The governors’ action is like driving a carpet tack with a sledgehammer: It gets the job done but overall is more destructive than beneficial.”

Keep in mind that both Cuomo and Christie fancy themselves to be president someday. Of the country.

Speaking of the president, the real one, he went and hugged Nina Pham, the Dallas nurse who was declared free of the Ebola virus. He did this in the Oval Office, no less.

So brave, showing the entire country he understands the science of Ebola — and right before the midterm elections. Someone’s bound to complain about that.

Meanwhile, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal has declared that symptom-free health care workers returning from West Africa must be quarantined for 21 days. He also said they won’t be paid for their lost wages.

“I don’t think it’s right to ask the taxpayers of this state to pay for individuals who have perhaps put themselves in this category,” he said about health care workers volunteering to save lives somewhere other than in America. “We are incurring the expense of all the monitoring” — his bright idea — “and all the quarantining that may be associated with it.”

Makes me misty-eyed for the days of Missouri’s U.S. Senate candidate Todd Akin and his theory about the magic sperm zappers.

OK, not really, but surely you can see why he’s come to mind.

Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist and an essayist for Parade magazine. She is the author of two books, including “…and His Lovely Wife,” which chronicled the successful race of her husband, Sherrod Brown, for the U.S. Senate. To find out more about Connie Schultz ([email protected]) and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at

Photo: New Jersey governor Chris Christie greets supporters while campaigning with Florida Gov. Rick Scott during a campaign stop in Ormond Beach, FL, Monday, Oct. 27, 2014. (Joe Burbank/Orlando Sentinel/MCT)

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Correction: Only one of the health care workers to be diagnosed with Ebola had been in West Africa, not all three as this column originally stated.

  • tranz2deep

    Could someone tell these assholes to butt out unless they actually have expertise?
    No, Ben (Carson), I don’t mean you. You can butt out until you can prove surgical talent makes you an expert in infectious disease.

    • itsfun

      Is the EBOLA czar a expert in infectious disease?

      • highpckts

        Enough with the “Ebola czar” thing! We have accredited docs telling us what is and isn’t! The only reason there is a “czar” is because the GOP insisted on one!!

        • itsfun

          Are you saying we can’t depend on the “czar” to do anything to help the situation? Has anyone heard from him at all? How much is he being paid by the taxpayers to do absolutely nothing? His big concern is over population. Is his answer to have people die from Ebola to fix the population problem as he see it?

          • ericlipps

            If that were the plan, it would be doomed from the start. For all the panic over Ebola, it simply isn’t going to kill that many people. In all likelihood, more people will die this winter from the flu, in America alone, than will die worldwide from Ebola during the same period.

          • idamag

            The methodology is “keep scared keep ‘m controlled.” It worked after 9-11 in the land of the free and the home of the “brave.”

          • ericlipps

            That wouldn’t accomplish what itsfun suggests is our new “Ebola czar’s” real objective—a huge die-off to
            address the threat of overpopulation. Personally, I find that charge absurd. As for “keep ’em scared, keep ’em controlled,” I don’t think it’s likely that a
            Democratic-appointed official would favor a policy just about guaranteed to get people stampeding to the polls to vote for Republican wall-builders.

          • highpckts

            One person has died! For crying loud, get a grip!
            We don’t need a Czar!

          • angelsinca

            One life is worth nothing, statistically speaking. We don’t really need any of the czars, actually.

  • itsfun

    How many medical degrees does the “EBOLA czar” have? By the way has anyone heard anything from him, since he was appointed?

    • JPHALL

      Why do you need to hear from him? His job is as a coordinator not leader.

      • itsfun

        The “czar” title alone makes him a leader in getting the problems fixed. The czar should be keeping everyone aware of the status of the Ebola problem.

        • JPHALL

          What other czar has stood out out making public statements for the news cycle? There have been several.
          Subject: Re: New comment posted on So Cute, This Insistence On Facts About Ebola

  • FT66

    I think the first person who is supposed to respect doctors and nurses is Chris Christie. These people saved his life. By the way they used science.

  • idamag

    The plot is probably to keep people scared so they look to Christie and Cuomo for protection. It follows the old “Code Orange”, “Code Red, etc.”

    • FT66

      I also think so. I wonder why these politicians got 21 days if not from experts (doctors). And why can’t they rely on what doctors advise to do? To me they are acting like laymen with no any know-how.

      • idamag

        Didn’t you know the t-party knows everything? They are more qualified than a scientist who spent 12 years getting their education. And when it comes to medicine they know everything.

  • Elle Tee

    Obama lied on March 6, 2010 when he claimed that his regime would not get in the way of the relationship between a families and doctors.

  • howa4x

    Christie is a known bully and loves to beat up on the weak. He is now trying to join the ranks of the most ignorant group in this country the Tea party by stirring up fears about a non existent threat, which they do about everything. He is singlehandedly making sure that no nurse or doctor from NJ goes to west Africa to try and stop the epidemic. His locking up of the nurse Hickox was a blatant attempt to pander to the unscientific of our lot. He went on the state that she was noticeably ill which was a complete lie since she posted 2 negative blood tests In the truest bully fashion when confronted by the evidence and weight of the medical and scientific community, he backed off, as any bully would when someone bigger or smarter confronts them. So this is the man who thinks bravado can replace intellect when dealing with a crisis.
    He is a neo con’s dream wishing he could be president to bully the smaller countries of the world and plunder their assets. Making everyone fear him. This is why his poll numbers in his own state are constantly dropping, and why party donors are turning toward Romney and Bush. Maybe everyone will realize he is just a blowhard that can’t manage is own administration, and lashes out at critics instead of solving problems. 2 years out and still people are out of their homes from super storm Sandy, and the state has been downgraded by bond rating agencies a record 8 times since he took office. That is the real Christie a lot of bluster to cover his incompetence.

    • idamag

      You said it.

    • angelsinca

      “He is singlehandedly making sure that no nurse or doctor from NJ goes to west Africa to try and stop the epidemic.”

      Not really. His response concerns travel in the other direction. He seems to be one of very few willing to risk a minor inconvenience while a genuine threat of transmission is disarmed. At least he doesn’t spend ALL of his time lashing out at republicans instead of resolving differences.

      • howa4x

        You have no idea what you are talking about. I was in charge of bioterrorism response planning and disease outbreaks for country of 450,000, and we studied Ebola in 1999. It is the hardest of all diseases to catch since you need direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot catch it airborne., like flu. Don’t you find it strange that Duncan’s family ho had close contact with him didn’t get Ebola? He was the only person in this country to die of it. The nurses who caught it were handling his fluids with out the correct protection. Every level 2 hospital in NJ has isolation rooms for people with contagious symptoms, staffed by trained nurses and infectious disease specialists. Christie made a spectacle of this woman who risked her life to stop the epidemic in Africa. There was no need to place her in a plastic tent outside the hospital. He did this for political reasons to show how tough he was and people like you bought into it. Christie let her out when she threatened to go to court where he would lose like Maine did. She had no symptoms and posed no public health threat. Christie is running all over the country lambasting democrats so I don’t get where you think he is bi partisan. He is a bully and that is how the people of N J know him and this shameless event proved it

        • angelsinca

          I didn’t say Christie was bipartisan and he certainly isn’t “running all over the country” lambasting the political opposition. You have him confused with Obama. The campaign to politically crucify Christie over the bridge closure failed. Try again. Lose again.

        • angelsinca

          howa4x wrote: “…you need direct contact with the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot catch it airborne.”.

          You mean like a sneeze? It seems rather odd that all the prior ‘study’ of Ebola in the 90’s hasn’t done much to enable control of the current outbreak of the virus.

  • tdm3624

    I love the title of this article!

  • Callsign Viper

    Another day, another lie: