Christie mishandling Ebola crisis
Stubborn, misinformed stance feeds into unnecessary panic
It was right around this time two years ago that Hurricane Sandy swept through the Northeast and wrecked much of New Jersey. Our state bore the brunt of the storm, and in the aftermath, we looked to Gov. Chris Christie to begin what was a long, expensive road to rebuilding the damage. But while the tough-talking governor initially appeared to take control of the situation to push for larger economic aid packages for Sandy relief, it was quickly marred by the corruption surrounding the distribution of that money — much of which didn’t even go to the areas that actually needed it. It seemed kind of unbelievable that Christie would take one of the worst disasters in the history of the state and exploit it like that.
So you’ll forgive us for not falling over ourselves to praise Christie for his apparently strong response to the current Ebola crisis.
Under Christie, New Jersey is implementing a 21-day quarantine policy for all health care workers coming from countries in West Africa who might have been in direct contact with Ebola patients. His decision is controversial because it contradicts federal policies on the issue of Ebola and ignores recommendations and guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A nurse who just returned from Sierra Leone was quarantined this weekend but protested that the quarantine was a violation of her rights — she tested negative for Ebola, showed no symptoms and was eventually allowed to leave. It’s true that we’re better off safe than sorry, but this kind of unnecessary caution is actually adding to a dangerous atmosphere that is bordering on hysteria — and that’s definitely not a good thing.
The media is failing to safely and appropriately inform the public about Ebola, instead sensationalizing the issue and causing undue panic. While public health professionals attempt to educate people about the reality of the threat of Ebola and offer more realistic and practical prevention methods, the media continues to feed into the feeling of hysteria and blurs the reality of the situation. As a government official, Christie has a responsibility to aid the federal government and health workers in dispelling myths about Ebola and encouraging more balanced approach to addressing the issue. But instead, it seems that he is once again playing up public opinion for his own benefit. Christie’s hyperbolic stance makes this a win-win situation for him: Even though it’s unlikely there will be an outbreak of Ebola anyway, he’ll still be able to credit himself for helping to prevent it because of his overcautious policy.
According to Christie, he’s just doing what he needs to do to represent the people of New Jersey. In his words, “This is common sense, and ... the American public believes it is common sense. And we’re not moving an inch. Our policy hasn’t changed, and our policy will not change.” But this isn’t about what the public thinks, because the majority of the public is completely misinformed about the issue by the media. Of course, when we have major news networks constantly discussing the threat of Ebola, it might seem like a 21-day quarantine is reasonable. But the fact of the matter is — and we say “fact” because this is coming from the professionals who are actually qualified to talk about Ebola — is that this quarantine is completely unnecessary. Unless a person tests positive for Ebola or is symptomatic, quarantining them is just counterproductive. There are already guidelines in place to deal with actual cases of Ebola that have been set by experts who know what they’re talking about — and if Christie actually cared about the people of New Jersey and not just his own image, he would listen to them instead of being so stubborn.