Ebola/Zika Viruses

Two Million Pregnant Women At Risk For Zika Virus

So far, the GOP-controlled House has offered a mere $622 million in Zika funding — far less than what will be needed to meaningfully combat the virus. It’s unclear when Congress may reach an agreement on this issue before its long summer recess. And according to an analysis by the Center For American Progress, this delay could be putting about 2 million pregnant American women at risk.

Using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), here’s the think tank’s prediction for the number of pregnant women who might be affected by Zika this summer and fall, broken down by state:

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We’ve known for months that Zika, which has been ravaging our neighbors to the south, was headed for the United States as warmer weather approached. In fact, it’s already here — there are currently 472 confirmed cases of Zika in the continental US, though so far they are all travel-related. Including U.S. territories such as Puerto Rico, which is already being overwhelmed by the virus, so far 279 pregnant women have tested positive for the virus.

These new numbers, however, show just how great the risk is if the United States hits mosquito season unprepared. Preparation takes funding — which is necessary for basic research on the virus, to help develop a vaccine, and take preventative measures like providing mosquito nets and education campaigns about how to avoid getting bitten. Yet despite the clear and present danger, conservatives on Capitol Hill have dragged their feet, haggling over the finances.

Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, said, “The House of Representatives is three months late and more than a billion short of doing what’s necessary to protect the American people.”

This is typical of a Republican-led Congress.  They fail to do enough until it is too late, and then things get really expensive.

Republicans Want America To Be Full Of Wimps

Or…. as the Rude Pundit says, pussies.  He articulates my views exactly:

The Republican National Committee is up with an ad that throws every scary thing in the world at you. “ISIS gaining ground. Terrorists committing mass murder. Ebola inside the U.S. Americans alarmed about national security,” says the ominous voice ominously. “What’s President Obama doing? Making plans to bring terrorists from Guantanamo to our country. Ignoring the Constitution, the Congress, and the American people. November 4th, Obama’s policies are on the ballot. Vote to keep terrorists off U.S. soil. Vote Republican.”

Just for a moment, let us explore the logic of the ad. Leave aside that ISIS wouldn’t exist if we hadn’t invaded Iraq, which Obama distinctly did not do. And leave aside that blaming Obama for Ebola in the U.S. is about as absurd as allegations get. Instead, look at a couple of phrases: “Ignoring the Constitution,” for instance. Would that be the same constitution that guarantees people habeas corpus rights, which the Gitmo detainees have been denied? And if Obama is “ignoring…the Congress,” how the fuck is electing a Republican going to make the President listen to Congress? As for “ignoring…the American people,” how’d that go when 90% of Americans wanted expanded gun background checks? Fuck these fuckers with a pineapple dildo.

But the Gitmo argument, that’s kind of insane, no? We bring terrorists to the United States all the goddamn time. Last fucking week, a terrorist who has been held at Bagram Air Base (aka “Afghan Gitmo”) since 2009 was flown to New York City to face trial. A couple of days before that, a henchman of a terrorist who was convicted earlier this year in a U.S. court was extradited to face trial here. The few dozen men, at best, from Guantanamo, who have been waterboarded and solitary-confined into insanity? Are we really supposed to be afraid of them?

That’s what Republicans are counting on, that Americans will once again show what giant pussies we are when it comes to security, willing to be fucked again and again by exploitative microdicks who have nothing else to campaign on. Check out Kansas Senator Pat Roberts’ ad with Election Day a week away. The message is that Roberts will never, ever allow detainees at Gitmo to be transferred to the military prison at Leavenworth. In the most ironic move, Roberts is portrayed as the tough guy for standing up to Obama while his opponent, Greg Orman, is Obama’s bitch who wouldn’t stop Obama from letting terrorists blow up wheat fields.

You got that? If you think, like Obama, that the United States is strong enough to put terrorists on trial, you’re weak. That’s all kinds of reverse logic bullshit. As Washington Monthly called Roberts and those who refuse to close Gitmo, they’re the “Bedwetter Caucus.” (Just to be clear: Orman actually agrees that Gitmo should not be closed. Independents can be bedwetters, too.)

Goddamnit, American motherfuckers, every single one of us: Aren’t you tired of being afraid all the time? Isn’t it exhausting? Aren’t you tired of being told that you’re just a fuckin’ wimp who would be murdered the second a terrorist touched our precious soil? Aren’t you sick of these assholes making you think that Ebola is going to jump out of the Dark Continent and turn you black or whatever the fuck we’re supposed to fear it does?

The new Democratic ad, the closing argument, if you will, should be: “Don’t let Republicans tell you that Americans are pussies. You’re not a pussy. Vote for the Democrats.”

I’m not sure if he is serious or not about the Democratic ad.  I am though.  I think it would work.

Ebola Update

There was news yesterday that a doctor in New York tested positive for Ebola:

A doctor in New York City who recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea became the first person in the city to test positive for the virus Thursday, setting off a search for anyone who might have come into contact with him.

The doctor, Craig Spencer, was rushed to Bellevue Hospital Center and placed in isolation at the same time as investigators sought to retrace every step he had taken over the past several days.

At least three people he had contact with in recent days have been placed in isolation. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which dispatched a team to New York, is conducting its own test to confirm the positive test on Thursday, which was performed by a city lab.

***

Dr. Spencer, 33, had traveled on the A and L subway lines Wednesday night, visited a bowling alley in Williamsburg, and then took a taxi back to Manhattan.

Naturally, this caused a lot of freaking out, especially from the Fox News people.  But one needs to consider the following:

1. According to reports, the doctor reported his condition as soon as he exhibited symptoms. The New York Times reports that Spencer “did not develop a fever until Thursday morning.” He then immediately reported his symptoms and was transported to the hospital by emergency medical workers in protective gear. People with Ebola “cannot spread the disease until they begin to display symptoms.”

2. Spencer’s subway ride on Wednesday night was highly unlikely to pose a danger to fellow travelers. Spencer did ride the New York City Subway on Wednesday night to go bowling. But he was not displaying symptoms at the time. Except in the very sickest patients, the virus is primary “spread through blood, feces and vomit.” As a result, Ebola is “extremely unlikely to spread through public transit.” There has been no documented case of “transmission to a human from a dry surface” like a subway pole. The disease is not airborn.

3. New York City hospitals are prepared. Various hospitals in New York City have been drilling to screen for potential cases of Ebola. Bellevue, where Spencer was transported, was designated to receive suspected or confirmed Ebola cases. Staff is equipped with “Tyvek gowns, a white bodysuit that is impervious to fluids” and other protective gear. Spencer is being treated in one of four isolation rooms. There is also “a separate laboratory in the infectious disease ward to handle Ebola blood samples, so they will not have to be transported around the hospital.”

In other words, the system worked.  The doctor’s self-monitoring worked.  He did what he was supposed to do.

In related Ebola news, one of the nurses who contracted Ebola (from the Dallas patient) here in the United States has been cleared to go home.

UPDATE: Said nurse just got hugged by Obama.  Analysts at Fox News aren’t sure whether to criticize Obama for NOT fearing a healthy woman, or to celebrate his impending Ebola death.

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Today’s Attempt At Perspective

Number of people in the U.S. who have died from Ebola:  1
Number of people in the U.S. who have contracted Ebola:  2

Number of people in the U.S. who have died from the flu so far this year:  2
Number of people in the U.S. who will die from the flu this year (est.): 36,000

Turn off Fox TV and get a flu shot.

Josh Voorhees: Everything that went wrong in Dallas — a timeline of Ebola missteps | Dallas Morning News

Thomas Eric Duncan first arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on the night of Thursday, Sept. 25, with a fever, abdominal pain, dizziness, and nausea. What doctors failed to realize then is that Duncan had Ebola—the first case to be diagnosed in the United States. That was only the beginning of the hospital’s problems. In the three weeks since, Duncan has died and two nurses who cared for him became the first people to contract the deadly virus while on U.S. soil.

“Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes,” Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, told Congress in a written statement Thursday. “We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry.”

The hospital isn’t the only one second-guessing its own reaction. The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Thomas Frieden, expressed his own regret earlier this week that his agency had not done more to help control the infection. He said that the CDC will now dispatch rapid response teams to any U.S. hospital with a confirmed Ebola case. “I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed,” Frieden said.

Many details about Duncan’s care remain unknown, unconfirmed, or in dispute. But here is our best attempt at a timeline based on information from Varga’s congressional testimony; Duncan’s medical records, which were obtained by the Associated Press; and a lengthy statement provided by National Nurses United, a union that is serving as the voice for an unknown number of Presbyterian Hospital nurses who have raised serious allegations of missteps, mistakes, and failures during Duncan’s treatment.

Saturday, Sept. 20: Thomas Eric Duncan arrives in Dallas.

The 42-year-old is in the United States to see his family. He had previously been living alone in a small room he rented in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. Four days before boarding a plane for the United States, Duncan reportedly helped take his landlord’s pregnant and Ebola-stricken daughter to and from the hospital, the point at which he was likely exposed to the deadly virus. (Duncan’s nephew, Josephus Weeks,has since denied this detail, claiming that his uncle had told him that he hadn’t helped the pregnant woman.)

Wednesday, Sept. 24: Duncan begins to develop symptoms.

This is the first point at which Duncan would have been contagious.

Thursday, Sept. 25, approx. 10:30 p.m.: Duncan goes to the ER.

He arrives at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital emergency room with a fever of 100.1, abdominal pain, dizziness, nausea, and a headache. At some point during his ER stay, a nurse makes a note that Duncan had recently arrived from Africa—but that information never makes it to the attending physician, according to the AP. According to the hospital, Duncan was examined and underwent “numerous” tests over the next four hours. At one point, his temperature spikes to 103 before dropping to 101.2. Doctors ultimately conclude that his symptoms are “not severe.” Medical records provided to the AP, however, show that Duncan had reported experiencing “severe pain” and that at some point medical staff marked his 103-degree fever with an exclamation point on his chart.

Friday, Sept. 26, early morning: Duncan is discharged.

He is given a prescription of antibiotics and instructions to take Tylenol.

Sunday, Sept. 28: Duncan returns to the ER.

Duncan is rushed by ambulance back to the hospital. He is suffering from diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, and vomiting. This time his symptoms—and recent travel history—prompt staff to decide that he is an Ebola risk. The CDC is notified.

Sunday, Sept. 28 – Tuesday, Sept. 30: Conflicting accounts.

Much of what happens between when doctors first deem Duncan an Ebola risk and when a blood test confirms those suspicions remains in dispute. Among the areas of concern:

General protocol: According to Varga, the hospital “followed all CDC and Texas Department of State Health Services recommendations.” The nurses tell a different story. “There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system,” according to the union.

Isolation: The hospital has suggested that Duncan was quickly isolated from other patients. The nurses union, however, alleges that he remained around other patients for “several hours” and that an initial attempt by a nurse supervisor to have Duncan moved to an isolation unit was met with “resistance from other hospital authorities.”

Protective gear: Nurses and doctorsreportedly cared for Duncan while wearing standard hospital gowns instead of hazmat suits—a detail not refuted by Varga, who said only that staff wore “protective equipment” like “water impermeable gowns,” surgical masks, eye protection, and gloves. According to the nurses union, no one at the hospital knew “what kind of personal protective equipment should be worn,” and some nurses had to rely on medical tape to cover exposed body parts. It also remains unclear exactly when staff began wearing shoe covers—a step that should have been implemented immediately to prevent workers from tracking Duncan’s contagious body fluids around the hospital. According to medical records, at one point a doctor suggested shoe covers should be considered but appears to have stopped short of making them mandatory. Varga, meanwhile, says the shoe covers “were added shortly” after the initial protective gear.

Blood work: The nurses union claims that Duncan’s lab work was sent through the hospital’s pneumatic tube system without any special precautions, an action that risked contaminating the entire system.

Secondary isolation: According to the nurses union, hospital officials allowed nurses who had cared for Duncan to continue their normal patient rotations “even though they had not had the proper personal protective equipment” while caring for him. The union also alleges that patients who may have been exposed to Duncan were isolated for only a single day, even though any patient with a low-grade fever could have potentially been contagious.

Hospital officials say that as many as 76 staff members may have been exposed to Duncan before he died but have not said exactly how many treated him prior to his official Ebola diagnosis.

Monday, Sept. 29: Nina Pham treats Duncan for the first time.

Pham, a 26-year-old nurse, will later become the first person known to have contracted Ebola while in the United States. According to the AP, there is “no indication” in the records that Pham “donned any protective gear” during her first encounter with Duncan, although records show she did during her subsequent visits to his room.

Tuesday, Sept. 30: Positive test result.

The CDC confirms that Duncan has Ebola.

Wednesday, Oct. 8: Duncan dies.

His longtime partner, Louise Troh, and her 13-year-old son, meanwhile, remain quarantined in Dallas. “I am now dealing with the sorrow and anger that his son was not able to see him before he died,” Troh says in a statement, a reference to the 19-year-old son the couple had together, who was away at college when the hospital put his father in isolation. “This will take some time, but in the end, I believe in a merciful God.”

Friday, Oct. 10: Nurse travels to Ohio.

Amber Joy Vinson, a nurse who cared for Duncan and who will later become the second person known to have contracted Ebola in the United States, takes a commercial flight from Dallas to Cleveland to visit family in Akron, Ohio. She was showing no symptoms at this point but, according to the CDC, health workers who had treated Duncan had been advised to stay home and avoid public transportation. The CDC will later confirm, however, that Vinson was given the green light to fly to Ohio. It is unclear why.

Friday, Oct. 10: Pham shows symptoms.

Pham, who, medical records show, cared for Duncan on and off from the day after he was admitted to the day before he died, is placed in isolation in the Dallas hospital.

Sunday, Oct. 12: A second positive.

The hospital confirms Pham’s positive test results for Ebola. Confusion reigns as the hospital first says it will divert all emergency room visits to other area hospitals, then says it won’t, before finally reverting to the original diversion plan.

Monday, Oct. 13: Vinson returns.

Vinson returns from Cleveland to Dallas–Fort Worth on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 with 132 other passengers. She had a low-grade fever of 99 degrees—below the 100.5 threshold at which doctors believe a patient is contagious—and, the CDC says, she did not have any symptoms likely to have put others on the flight at risk. According to an agency spokesman, Vinson was cleared to make the trip back to Texas by a CDC official. Again, it is unclear why.

Tuesday, Oct. 14: Vinson admitted to the hospital.

Vinson arrives at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with a low-grade fever and is placed in isolation.

Wednesday, Oct. 15: A third positive, a first transfer.

Vinson becomes the third person to be officially diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. She is said to be “ill but clinically stable” and is later transferred by air ambulance to Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, which has one of four biocontainment units in the country.

Thursday, Oct. 16: A second transfer.

Pham is to be transferred to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, which also has a biocontainment unit. (The country’s other two biocontainment units are at University of Nebraska Medical Center and St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Montana.) In his testimony to Congress, Varga apologizes for the mistakes made at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

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Keep Calm Or Fear Ebola?

It is really hard to take the position that the Ebola fear is the by-product of Fox News doing their usual fearmongering shtick when you read that, for all their care given to contain the virus here in the United States, a nurse who treated the single Ebola patient in Dallas now has Ebola… and then… another nurse from the same Dallas hospital has tested positive for ebola… and then….

Ebola patient flew day before symptoms

Oy.

Here’s The Interesting Thing About The Republican Freakout Over Ebola

Fox News host Gretchen Carlson managed to wrap Ebola, the Secret Service scandal, the Veterans Affairs scandal, Obamacare, the IRS and Benghazi into one long string of questions on competence and safety on her Monday show:

Time now for my take. So, should we trust the government to keep us all safe from Ebola? With the government’s recent track record not being so hot, well, we learned we couldn’t trust the IRS, after the targeting of conservative groups. The Secret Service, after an armed man made his way into the White House. The VA, after reports men and women who served this country died waiting to get health care. We couldn’t trust the promise that Obamacare that we could keep our doctors that we wanted. And do we trust that we know all the answers yet about Benghazi? What more and more people seem to be asking about Ebola now isn’t that they’re necessarily scared about actually getting the disease, but that they’re scared the government agencies responsible with helping us if we do get sick might not be up to the task. So if Ebola becomes a bigger issue the question still remains, will we be safe?

But my favorite freak-outs are the ones where they claim that the CDC is lying and that Ebola has somehow mutated into a virus which is easily transmittable from person to person.

Really?  The GOP believes in mutations which serve to benefit the survival of a particular species?  How interesting.

New Blog To Be Witness To The End of the World

It’s been a month since I last wrote anything for the web. I am shutting down my previous blog, The Seventh Sense, and trying something new, here, reformatted and up-to-date with the latest blogging technology.

The Ashford Zone picks up where The Seventh Sense  left off, albeit a month later (and, If I can figure it out, with all of The Seventh Sense archives intact).  In that short month’s time, it appears that the end of the world is upon us.  The new insane Muslim enemy — ISIS — makes al Quaeda look like a day school for charming children.  And Ebola has come to the United States.  One dead in Dallas.  The CDC assured us that would be it… until a nurse who was treating the Dallas patient fell ill with the virus.

On the positive side, same-sex marriage very quickly and surprisingly came to the state of North Carolina, where I live.  And suddenly, almost unnoticed, the great civil rights issue of my lifetime came and went.  Extremely odd.

And the Red Sox, after taking the World Series last year, finished dead last in their division this year.  Extremely disappointing.

It’s been that kind of a blogging hiatus.

And that’s where I find myself as I venture forward.  Looking at the end.  Maybe.

Come join me!  It’ll be fun!!