Monday, October 27, 2014

Ebola Tackles Football

The quarterback of our daughter and son-in-law’s coed Brooklyn bar league football team went bowling last week and now the team’s season is all but over.

No, he didn’t wrench his arm out trying to make a 7-10 split spare. Rather, he’s a victim of the ongoing, somewhat overarching and sometimes shameful Ebola scare. You see, on the evening Dr. Craig Spencer went bowling at Gutter in Williamsburg, the quarterback patronized the same bowling alley. Dr. Spencer, you will recall, is the good doctor who volunteered to save lives in Guinea to treat Ebola patients and stem the plague, who unfortunately contracted the disease himself with symptoms displayed last Thursday. 

It is only natural to be cautious, concerned and sensitive. But people, including governors in our area, who are calling for and mandating quarantines for Ebola care workers, are feeding public panic by ignoring established medical science that Ebola is transmitted only through direct contact with infected body fluids.

At no time did any of Dr. Spencer’s fluids touch the quarterback. Still, he felt obligated to email his teammates and ask if they had a problem with his playing Sunday. All but one couple had no problem. If he played they wouldn’t, the couple wrote in an email to all team members save the quarterback. Without them the team had too few players to field a squad. They forfeited. Unless there’s a change of heart they’ll forfeit the last two games of the season, as well.

For sure, touch football is not on the same par of significance as the spread of Ebola. As I said earlier, caution, concern and sensitivity are required. Even if they were wrong, at least according to medical experts, the couple was entitled to express their feelings and act on them, regardless of how they affected the rest of the team.

But panic in the streets, at the airports, and on the ball fields must be balanced by attention to medical experts. Because of our federal/state system of government we lack a proper, uniform, central response to the challenge of Ebola containment, made all the more alarming because of the 24/7 media cycle in which we live. 

I don’t have an answer as to how we should react. But I worry about elected officials making decisions about science that are politically motivated. We’ve already seen some of their questionable (preposterous, actually) beliefs. Some continue to deny global warming. Or evolution. Or believe that a woman cannot become pregnant if raped. 

We live in the 21st century. Let’s start acting like we do. We are not living through a Stephen King novel. This is not the Middle Ages wracked by plague of unknown origin and remediation. 

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