I do not understand the President’s logic on the Renamed Infectious Disease of Some Concern. Here is his answer last night when asked if we were ever going to get around to closing the border with Mexico:
I have consulted with our public health officials extensively…. At this point they have not recommended a border closing…. It would be akin to closing the barn door after the horses are out because we already have cases here in the United States.
Earlier in the day, though, this is what he said about closing schools.
The president also strongly urged — upon the recommendation of public health officials — for schools to take an active role in stopping the spread of the virus.
“Schools with confirmed or suspected cases of H1N1 should strongly consider temporarily closing so that we can be as safe as possible,” he emphasized.
Mr. Obama said if more extensive steps need to be taken and should their local schools temporarily close, then parents should start thinking about contingency plans now for their children. Obama said that a plan to send kids to day care as an alternative is “not a good solution.”
The same conditions apply, do they not? The “barn door is already open” with infected schools as well, so why close them?
As it turns out, the President gave the right answer about schools. When you close the school, you reduce the chance that healthy students will come in contact with someone who is infected. Since there is usually a delay between visible signs of symptoms and a diagnosis, closing schools makes sense because that delay time means the infected person can infect more people before we even know they have the flu. If you already have one confirmed case, you can safely assume there are other students who have the flu and can spread it but haven’t shown any symptoms. It makes sense to shut down the school for a while.
His reasoning, though, falls down completely when it comes to the border. We already know that Mexico is, for lack of a better term, a hot zone. We can reasonably assume that someone coming from there is either infected or has been exposed. Screening doesn’t do much good because it relies on voluntary answers. People do lie, believe it or not, and unless the person we’re screening is blowing phlegm like a surfaced humpback whale, we wouldn’t know the truth.
Now I suppose we could quarantine everyone coming in from Mexico for 48 hours to see if they show any symptoms and test the ones who do, but that still means we’re closing our border with Mexico.
In either case, we would do with Mexico what the President rightly said we should do with schools – limit contact between the infected and non-infected
The problem is, closing the Mexican border could be interpreted in a hurtful way by idiots who know little about diseases and a lot about the grievance culture and it is to those people our President and Secretary of Homeland Security are playing.
Shrugging your shoulders and saying “Well, folks, the bug’s already here. What can we do?” isn’t actually a policy. It’s a cop-out, especially when dozens, hundreds, or even thousands more infected people are coming here every day. To extend the President’s analogy, even though the barn door is open a little bit, it would be stupid for us to throw it open all the way then set it on fire.
That just not bad health policy, it’s negligence. Maybe there’s a good reason we don’t want to close our borders. Maybe can have better screening processes in place than a heat sensor to tell if someone’s running a fever and a quick “You feeling okay?” We don’t know because all the President’s done is to blow off the question and ask us for yet more money.
I think it’s about time he based his actions on something more than a fear of enraging the perpetually enraged. Otherwise, this minor outbreak could become something much worse.
UPDATE: Stacy McCain says the President is playing to his “women, old people, and neurasthenic wussie-boys” constituency.
UPDATE 2: In this administration, it’s “just Joe being Joe”. If this had happened a year ago, it would be “that Chimptastic Idiot”.
UPDATE 3: Dr. Melissa Clouthier made the same point a couple of days ago. Today, she wants us to know that we will all die, but it won’t be Generic Panic flu #43775 that gets us.