After two nurses as Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Big D have now been infected with Ebola - as tests show- and nurses from that hospital have reportedly told a National Nurses Union no protocols were place, the protective wear was "generic" and further, the patient (Thomas Eric Duncan) was left in a public access area for hours - it is time for people (at least airline passengers) to take their safety into their own hands. It is clear to this observer that your standard hospitals aren't ready, and worse we can't even be sure of airline flights now, as the most recent RN infected- Amber Joy Vinson - was actually told she could get on a plane to Cleveland by the CDC, despite having attended to Duncan) and having a fever of 99.5F. (As MSNBC's Chris Hayes' observed last night, he's having a harder and harder time defending the CDC to his friends, as well as opponents, given their spate of lapses.)
Ok, the fever was below the threshold (100.4 F) the CDC had set, BUT the RN had cared for him. As CDC Honcho Thomas Frieden noted, under no circumstances should she have been flying any commercial airline flights. The immediate return flight to Dallas - when she actually had manifest symptoms - put 132 fellow passengers at risk - not to mention the hundred on the five additional flights made from Cleveland to Ft. Lauderdale, Atlanta, etc. before finally being "deep cleaned" by CDC standards back in Cleveland.
So what's an airline passenger to do? Take a clean up kit along when you board a plane, that's what! We have found that since we have been doing this regularly this year (on 3 flights en route to Barbados and 3 back to COS, then 3 flights en route to Switzerland and 3 back) we have not become ill - for the first time in years.
What is this kit? It includes a box of vinyl (non-latex) gloves - like surgical gloves, and a box of Chlorox wipes. As we find our way to our seats the first thing done is to don gloves, then remove the wipes and wipe down all seat surfaces, arm rests, tray tables (especially) the whole works. Yes, some people will look at you as if you're a hypochondriac - or maybe from Mars - but I warrant not so much now after we know Ebola traveled with Ms. Vinson to Cleveland and back. Now, I will bet they're thinking: "Hmmmm....why didn't we think of this sooner!" (Especially now that Frieden has admitted the virus can survive on surfaces - even when the spittle or barf has dried - for up to 7 hours, oh and they have now upped the fatality rate to 70% from 50%)
By the way, we leave all the magazines and the safety instruction plastic cards in the seat pockets alone, They are now known to contain the highest percentage of virus (and one drop of Ebola blood had 10 billion virus particles compared to 1 million for HIV) and are difficult to clean. If you want magazines, bring your own - and look at the attendant when she delivers the safety spiel - forget about the card. (In any case, any experienced air traveler should already know where the exits are, etc. and how to handle an oxygen mask, use the seat bottom for life preserver, etc.)
The deal here is to make to use the same cleaning protocol on each leg, and if a guy in the next aisle howls with laughter and mocks the extraordinary precautions, just chirp: "Well, at least we won't get Ebola!"
All this is now what we must do because it's evident our Neolib gov't has no plans at all to halt flights fro the hot zone. We keep being told that doing that "this will not stop the spread of the disease" - but I feel it's more a case that "doing it will cause the stock market to crash" as we almost saw yesterday (400+ point drop during the day - from airline stocks diving)
And, clearly, the greatest fear of Neoliberals is not 50 people a day getting Ebola in the U.S. but the DOW crashing by 500 pts, because of bans on unnecessary air travel from the region.
Oh, there are also memes circulating, as I beheld in today's Denver Post, that "human rights" may clash with health security if travel bans are mandated. Excuse me? Traveling cross-continent or trans-Atlantic by plane is NOT a right. It is a privilege. Having clean water and decent health care should be rights, but not traveling wherever the hell you want - because you think you need a vacation or whatever.
It's no wonder we're in somewhat of a mess when people can't distinguish true rights from privileges. But that has been the tenor the past 25 or 30 years as Neoliberalism has eviscerated the memetic landscape - so why be surprised?
All those who plan air travel anytime soon, especially for the holidays, would be well-advised to take along the wipe kit suggested. And, btw, it's good not just for Ebola but for the new Enterovirus-68 and the flu too!