Ebola in the U.S.: An ‘Epidemic’ of Fear and Quarantines

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Yale Global Health Justice Partnership (GHJP) have issued a report detailing the significant failure of the United States to properly handle the Ebola epidemic during the past year. Fear, Politics, and Ebola: How Quarantines Hurt the Fight Against Ebola and Violate the Constitution has a clear argument: the nation’s political leaders are directly responsible for creating panic and enacting policies, such as quarantines, that “not only misled the public, but threatened to actually undermine – rather than protect – public health both at home and in Ebola-affected countries.”

The New York Times has also covered the release of this straight-forward report, which provides insight from interviewed U.S. citizens who were both wrongfully quarantined and needlessly stigmatized and vilified. According to the report, “infected patients do not transmit the disease before symptoms appear, and therefore quarantine was not and is not needed to prevent the spread of Ebola in the United States for anyone who is willing and able to self-monitor for symptoms.” Even though no one in the United States who was quarantined actually developed Ebola, the public and political trepidation was combined with a “fear-mongering mass media that also ignored established science, further stroking panic and compounding an already immense public disservice.”

The report self-identifies as “an indispensable recounting of a collective failure, and as a stark exercise in lessons learned.” It provides a necessary critical commentary on the political approach to public health and the constitutional rights of U.S. citizens therein. 

Article formerly posted at https://www.hsdl.org/blog/newpost/view/ebola-in-the-u-s-an-epidemic-of-fear-and-quarantines