I am in a hospital room, with a member of my family who is not just recovering from surgery but also suffering from a contagious disease. Shingles is not Ebola. It's not deadly. You have to touch the weeping wounds or come into direct contact with the fluids to contract shingles. But doctors are worried about micro-particulate matter in this humid, small room. So, here I sit, wearing a face mask, latex gloves and a plastic dressing gown, a mini-isolation unit within an isolation unit, watching T.V.'s repetitive Ebola loop: the footage of the infected nurses, the Dallas hospital, anonymous yellow, hazmat bodysuits, and of course, "Clipboard Man."
"Clipboard Man," reportedly of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, is walking along the infected without any protective gear. This photo (left) was on BBC News' home page yesterday; U.S. broadcasters ran it all day long without commentary or question. Online, I've seen two reasons offered up for his lack of protection: one, he was assisting the medical staff as they have a hard time seeing through their masks (how then are they able to treat a patient?) and two, the patient was already fully protected anyway.
Notice what is lacking: any panic or even talk about the possibility he may be carrying tiny, particulate matter of this disease and putting others at risk. Not even concern for his safety, whoever he is exactly. No. Precautions are reserved for, um, shingles. No. The panic over the 'problem' of Ebola is reserved for the masses. When you consume the news, realize journalists only have jobs if they meet deadlines. The one sure way to meet them in this pressurized 24/7 cycle is to package a story as crisis. It's the easiest way; asking questions and researching answers takes just too much time.
I saw the subsequent photos of "Clipboard Man." He boarded the plane without gear, disembarked on the other end, and went into an ambulance, also without gear. If this was pure institutional ineptness, don't you think at some point along the journey someone would've reminded him that he forgot something?
Problem. Reaction. Solution. You control the problem, you control the reaction and you control the solution. The U.S. government owns the patent on the Ebola virus itself. It quite literally owns this problem. So, I watch -- sweating in these synthetics -- the 'reaction' part: where and how authorities are reacting -- and the flip-side -- when there is no reaction at all.