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October 29, 2014


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In the long run, dishonesty will hurt them more than anything.


State policymakers make bad decisions affecting a few "heroes," who in response make (or threaten to make) a bad decision in your view, and our focus is on the individuals instead of public policy? Two wrongs might not make a right, but shouldn't we be a lot more concerned with the potential for abuse on the government side of the ledger, instead of critiquing the decisions of three individuals? I tend to agree with you that dishonesty by these workers is not the ideal response... but if the superstitious mob with pitchforks were outside my house, I'm not sure I'd do anything differently.

I think the addendum to this post finally starts to grapple with the core of the issue. The question isn't whether a quarantine is ever justified (forget whatever media clowns say), but what is the proper standard for one, and who decides. The "devil is in the details," as you say. So what should the standard be? If the standard is "people with no information are scared" and the decider is "some political hack based on fear rather than medical judgment"--and some days in some areas, it looks like that might be the case--then we have BIG problems along dimensions of due process and public policy. Home confinement for 21 days is a HUGE restraint on liberty. You dismiss it as a mere inconvenience, which really fails to wrestle with the difficult balancing of interests. After all, we would need much more than a cop with probable cause to inflict such a restriction on someone who committed a crime. I'm glad someone, at least, is saying: let's keep our heads and ensure appropriate process and standards before we deprive a few altruistic individuals of their liberty. You may not and twitter may not agree with the judgment of the medical experts who do this for a living, but I'd rather have the balancing of interests informed by the state of medicine, not the paranoia of anyone with access to a keyboard.

Michelle Meyer

UPDATE: Maine Governor LePage offered to allow Hickox (and all others in her "some risk" category) to comply with the more relaxed CDC guidelines rather than home quarantine, but she apparently declined that offer. See


Hard to believe the CDC knows what it is doing where Dr. Freidan, the head, says that ebola is not contagious before the infected person has a fever ( and a WHO study published in the October 16, 2014 New England Journal of Medicine reports that 13% of the confirmed ebola patients did not exhibit fever.

With a 70% mortality rate according to the WHO study, a public health policy that does not call for quarantine of those in direct contact with the disease is irresponsible.

This does not mean that quarantine should be inhumane and we sorely need a de-politicized debate over quarantine conditions.


You don't gain a lot of credibility by relying on Breitbart and the NY Post to demonstrate health workers' deceptiveness. Can you get someone to say on the record that Craig Spencer lied?

Michelle Meyer

anon 10:37 pm, please see the updates I've now added to those stories.

Douglas Levene

Thank you for a very informative post. My only additional thought is that HCWs who lie about their exposure and health status to the responsible public officials ought to be severely punished, both professionally and criminally.


Why are healthcare workers allowed to keep their licenses to practice in their field? Healthcare workers do not get to make decisions for society. It is all well and good that they have risked their lives by going to West Africa to help fight Ebola, but as the facts have proven, nobody can guarantee that mistakes are not made. Last I heard, these healthcare workers are neither immune from making mistakes or from contracting Ebola.

Nobody in opposition to the quarantine has adequately explained why quarantining people coming back from West Africa is a bad idea when the end goal is to prevent an as yet incurable virus that turns a person's internal organs into mush - i.e., read Laurie Garrett and Richard Preston, is a bad idea.

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