To the editor: 

In response to Karen Zautyk’s column on Ebola, I think much of the media coverage to date and the statements of some politicians have promoted a climate of confusion and fear. The following points are important:

1. The current strain of Ebola is not airborne. Exposure is through direct contact with infected bodily fluids such as vomit, diarrhea, blood or saliva.

2. All major medical organizations, including the American Medical Assoc. and the American Hospital Assoc., agree that involuntarily quarantining someone not exhibiting symptoms is unnecessary. Only symptomatic individuals are contagious. Govs. Christie and Cuomo did not base their mandatory quarantine policy for health-care workers returning from West Africa on medical science. In my opinion, it was done for political reasons.

3. Nurse Kaci Hickox did not exhibit any symptoms. When the governors announced that she was being quarantined at University Hospital, they ignored the fact that she did not have a fever and was not contagious. Isolating her in a tent with no heat, A/C or a toilet was an overreaction and contributed to the climate of fear.

4. New York’s only Ebola patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, rode the subway, jogged several miles, visited a bowling alley, walked the High Line and patronized restaurants with his girlfriend before he exhibited any symptoms. The media contributed to the climate of fear by tracing his whereabouts, even though no one in the general public was at risk when he was asymptomatic.

5. The Dallas hospital exposures demonstrate that there are unacceptable deficiencies in protocols and training for nurses, doctors and first responders who may come in contact with Ebola patients. Instead of focusing on those gaps, most media and many politicians on TV continue to stoke a climate of fear by conjuring unreal risks to the general public.

We should listen to what the medical experts say about this deadly virus and base our public health policies on medical facts, not fear, and certainly not politics.

Mayor Alberto G. Santos 


Learn more about the writer ...