By James Boggs
Lately, an epidemic has been spreading throughout the United States.
It is not a viral epidemic, but an epidemic of ignorance and fear perpetuated by the mass media.
The reemergence of the Ebola virus has seemingly rendered the national media incapable of rational thought, sending news writers across the nation into panicked frenzies.
They proclaim that Ebola might turn into a nationwide disaster if the government doesn’t act fast enough.
The government, of course, remains the crux of the issue.
The once-deadly virus has now been reduced to a political weapon used to level accusations of incompetence at political enemies.
Politicians and pundits across the board have leveled largely baseless accusations of negligence against President Barack Obama, blaming him for either too much or often too little action taken.
Some of the more ridiculous pundits and critics even call for him to ban all flights to several West African countries.
The severity of the situation has been ridiculously over-exaggerated by media outlets looking to spike ratings and political enemies.
The facts are that, in the United States, there have been four confirmed cases of the Ebola virus and a single death.
In other words, Taylor Swift has more ex-boyfriends than the U.S. has Ebola cases.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have already contacted and are observing everyone who possibly could have come in contact with patients already infected. The CDC is monitoring the situation and containing it.
Indeed, the situation is largely contained.
Although a new case appeared a few days ago in New York City, the CDC has already put any possible contacts with the infected person under observation.
Even in West Africa, there are far more severe diseases at the moment. HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis offer far greater and more persistent threats than Ebola, due mainly to their highly contagious natures.
Although Ebola is a dangerous disease with a fatality rate of around 80 percent, it is significantly less contagious than most diseases.
The common flu is far more contagious, and the CDC estimates that between 250,000 and 500,000 people worldwide will die from it.
Compare that massive number to the total number of deaths from Ebola, around 6,000, and you can see that Ebola is a minor nuisance to organizations like the CDC and the World Health Organization.
Returning the focus to the U.S., the government already has things well under control.
Recently, for example, a nurse returning from work in West Africa was met at the airport, quarantined and tested for Ebola.
Though she tested negative, the quick and effective response shows that the CDC is already on top of the issue.
Additionally, the CDC has been printing informational pamphlets to get the facts about the disease out to the public.
The real problem here is with the media’s coverage of the situation, and the claims of politicians who want to leverage Ebola as a political tool.
Lately, a number of pundits have claimed that the government is failing to protect its citizens, that Obama in particular has been slow to act and that the government should ban all flights to West Africa. Yet it is completely clear that this is mere politicking, rather than real concern.
If the pundits were truly concerned about the health of American citizens, they would have been pushing for a ban on flights for a very long time, since a myriad of other contagions are active in West Africa.
They should’ve been backing the health food movement, since heart disease kills 600,000 Americans a year.
They should be concerned about tobacco, too, since it kills 480,000 a year in the U.S.
All this information and more is available on the CDC website for the public’s (and politicians’) consumption.
Rather than spreading fear concerning the disease, media outlets and politicians ought to be taking steps to reassure the public.
What should be a calm and rational reaction to a minor threat has been blown out of proportion by political maneuverings, and that should never be OK.