I can not look into the heads of governors Christie and Cuomo, but I suspect they made their decision at least in part for political positioning and to alley public fears. If not, why would they ignore the advice of the CDC, who have all the known facts about Ebola on their hands?
I agree, there may be political positioning involved here. CNN reported that a poll that they did suggested that something like 80% of the people polled were in favor of quarantine. I don't have a link, but if assuming their poll is accurate, this would support the argument that the decision was politically motivated - at least in part.
But by advocating a quarantine they are actually helping to create fear, because people can easily start to think that the CDC is lying to them. After all, that train of thought might run, if the CDC were telling the truth and no quarantine was necessary politicians wouldn't advocate a quarantine. But as the politicians want a quarantine we can not trust the CDC.
OK, I see truth to both sides on this. Yes, the mandated quarantine undermined the CDC's authority, but at this point, I don't think the CDC's assurances that Ebola was not a significant threat were having the fear quelling effect that they had prior to the Dallas incident.
But mistrust in the health authorities will help create fear, because it makes people doubt the facts of the matter. Something that is known "mutates" into something unknown in the imagination and fears of people. And the less people trust solid, scientific facts, the easier misinformation spreads.
I don't think people are doubting scientific facts here. What is in being doubted is thoroughness of the CDC's recommendations. From the news about the allegedly insufficient protective garments that the folks in Dallas were recommended to use, it seems pretty clear that there is something lacking in their equation. Perhaps they are assuming the workers will follow their procedures flawlessly?
The best way to fight an epidemic of fear and misinformation is to keep calm and stick with the facts. Calling for a quarantine after just one single case has come to light is not keeping calm.
One single case?
I admit, my recollection of the exact time line is blurry, but I don't think is was in reaction to one single case.
First, let's consider why one thinks quarantine is a valid response to control certain infections: because medical science tells us this is the case right? Quarantine were not invented by, say, a professional baseball player. It was invented by medial science. So, when someone advocates for a quarantine, they are following the advice of medical science.
No, it's an effective plan because it makes logical sense. You cut off the bad part before it infects the rest. It doesn't matter if this idea came from a doctor or some peasant who was trying to minimize the rot on his food.
Now, we also know you do not quarantine everyone for anything. We know this is true because we don't quarantine people who have diabetes, for example. Or gonorrhea. Why? Because medical science tells us that quarantines are not the right tool to address the transmission of such diseases. So, when we decide not to advocate for the blanket quarantine of everyone with a stomach flu, we are following the advice of medical science once again.
Were talking about quarantining those few who are at risk of being infected with a contagious and deadly disease in order to minimize the risk. The fact that a person has been working directly with sick Ebola patients in an highly infected part of the world, puts them at some level of risk. The method for assessing that risk has been based on science. We learned from the CDC about the 21 day window and about what symptoms to look for. What is in debate is what threshhold of risk is acceptable.
Now let's turn to Ebola. What does medical science say we should do about quarantining everyone who flies in from West Africa? Hmm? It says we don't need to do that. It says we shouldn't do that.
Quarantining people who have been caring for sick patients and quarantining everyone who flies in are two different things. I think you need a separate policy for each group since the factors that introduce risk are different. Fortunately for us, the folks in West Africa have reason to prevent sick people from leaving the country.