Best, brightest needed to help solve situation

Published 12:05 am Thursday, October 16, 2014

Ebola, the deadly virus that has killed more than 4,400 people in West Africa and one person in the United States has gone from a problem “over there” to a very real-world concern for millions of Americans.

Worries over Ebola are understandable.

Things that are invisible, tiny and deadly are always a bit scary.

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But the miscues America’s public health trust has made in recent weeks cause some people pause and be concerned.

Statistically, at this point, Ebola is hardly a scratch on the surface of America’s health care woes. On average, more than 30,000 people die in the U.S. from the common flu. But Ebola is far different than the flu, at least in our minds.

Most Americans have had the flu at some point in their lives and have recovered. That makes us comfortable that it can be conquered. But Ebola is foreign and seemingly far more contagious and frightening.

Hysteria, however, may become a bigger, more sinister threat to the American people than the virus itself.

Fortunately, no widespread panic has set in yet, but a few more public gaffs — like Wednesday’s news that a newly infected nurse, known to have been exposed to the disease, was allowed to travel by commercial airline on Monday — and the paranoia will almost certainly kick into high gear.

We hope and expect the Centers for Disease Control increases its grip on the situation and quickly institutes a heavy-handed layer of control over local and state officials who are seemingly ill-equipped to contain and safely care for Ebola patients.

In the end, our nation has the know-how to quash Ebola, but it will take our best and brightest to make it happen.