Sunday, November 2, 2014

This Open Letter to America

Dear America,

You aren't going to catch Ebola. Let me repeat that. You are not going to catch Ebola. So do yourselves a favor and calm down. Turn off the news, take a deep breath, and stop freaking out. Because, I can't say this enough, you aren't going to catch Ebola.

I know, Ebola is a scary sounding disease. Someone who contracts Ebola should be scared, because it can kill you in nasty ways. It does have a scary mortality rate for those who have it. However, let me remind you that you won't catch it. You're not going to get it. This is not an impending pandemic.

Let me remind you how one contracts Ebola: by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of a person with Ebola when they are showing symptoms. It is not airborne. It doesn't spread if someone breathes on you. You could be in the same room as someone with Ebola and not catch it, provided you have no direct contact with this person's bodily fluids.

You, the average American, will not come into contact with an Ebola sufferer's bodily fluids. The only possible way that will happen is if you are a health care professional and you deliberately interact with a patient. And even then, you will only get infected if you fail to follow proper protocol. That's what happened in Texas, by the way. The hospital with the Ebola patient failed to follow proper protocol.

But you won't catch Ebola if you were in the same city, nor will you catch Ebola from someone who was nine miles from that hospital. You won't catch Ebola just because you were once in Africa, nor will your children catch Ebola from classmates from Rwanda. And yet, this is the kind of fear that's been permeating through America over the past few weeks.

Do you know why I'm so calm? Because this isn't an epidemic. If it were an epidemic, the plane-full of people who rode with the nurse with Ebola would have Ebola. None of them have Ebola. Not one of them caught Ebola from her in that tight, enclosed space. If anyone would get it, it's them. They don't have it. They did not contract Ebola. Therefore it is safe to conclude that you, dear reader, will not contract Ebola.

So let's stop this foolish talk about closing the borders to flights from Africa. Let's stop freaking out because someone may have spent some time in Africa. In fact, let's remember that many parts of Africa are first-world countries with an advanced medical and technological infrastructure.

And while we're on the subject of Africa, let's remember that Nigeria is doing a great job containing the disease. This isn't an unstoppable plague, it's a very preventable disease that we can control. And, let me assure you once more, it's a disease that you're not going to contract. At all.

What is going to kill you, average American? You're more likely to die in a car accident. Or from falling out of bed. Or being killed by a deer. Or even a shark. Right now more people have been killed by texting and driving than have died in America from Ebola.

In fact, if you are worried about the spread of disease, far more people are going to die from getting postoperative infections after routine hospital procedures than Ebola. How many? Nearly 100,000 people will die each year. If we should be up in arms about anything, it's that.

But instead, you're ignoring all the very real threats and freaking out over a disease that you're not going to get. Because, I can't say this enough, you are not going to catch Ebola.

So please, calm down and get some perspective. Otherwise you're going to keep doing things that future generations will have to apologize for.

Rationally yours,

Charles B. French

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