The crisis that isn’t

Getting run over by a cow.

Receiving a bite from a poisonous spider.

Becoming infected with MRSA.

Suffering a bunk bed accident.

Being legally executed.

No, these aren’t all just things I’d rather do than watch Dancing With the Stars – they’re actually things that are, statistically, far more likely to kill you than Ebola.

Of course, you might never know this by being alive in the United States, where these days the media has made it seem as if there’s a pretty good chance that guy in the cube across from you, your neighbor across the street and the checkout woman at the supermarket all may give you Ebola at any moment.

To recap: Two cases of Ebola have developed in the United States – a nation of 318 million people – both in nurses at the same Dallas hospital that treated a Liberian man who came to the country with the disease.

Faced with this daunting reality, a national evening news program last night dedicated its first 11 minutes to the matter. Local stations have dubbed this an “Ebola crisis.” Yet they are alarmingly silent about the “influenza crisis,” which on average kills more than 20,000 people a year.

This make-believe catastrophe has gotten so bad that President Obama was roundly criticized for not doing more to ensure the safety of the nation.

In response, he canceled two trips this week, then authorized the Pentagon to call up reserve troops to fight the disease in Africa, where the problem is a bit more real. He even felt the need to tell reporters, in a somewhat bizarre moment, that he had hugged and kissed nurses in Atlanta who treated two American Ebola patients who had contracted the disease in Africa.

I might not have gone THAT far in trying to convince the public that this is not a national calamity, but perhaps the point needed to be made somehow.

None of this is meant to trivialize the fact that Ebola is a deadly disease that can be spread and has now been introduced to the U.S. in a way it hadn’t been previously. It certainly is important that the U.S. – and its states and their localities – prepare and train for worst-case scenarios, in case other Ebola patients emerge.

In Henrico, 911 operators are asking for details from callers who describe having flu-like symptoms, in order to learn whether they’ve recently traveled to West Africa. The Henrico Health Department has reviewed with employees the procedures they should follow in the event the disease arrives in the county.

These are prudent and logical steps that governments ought to take, just as they prepare for hurricanes, hostage situations and other unlikely but possible events that would demand an immediate and focused response.

It’s unfortunate that they can’t also train mainstream media to learn the difference between a true crisis and something far less urgent.

E-mail Citizen Publisher Tom Lappas at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).
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October 2017

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Varina Library will host a Halloween Horror Side by Side of “Psycho” from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. The group will view the original 1960 film “Psycho,” directed and produced by Alfred Hitchcock, and the 1998 American horror film of the same name, directed and produced by Gus Van Sant, side by side. For details, call 501-1980 or visit Full text

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