- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 15, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Less than two weeks ago, the government told us that the Ebola virus couldn’t spread here.

Also, the Internal Revenue Service isn’t targeting, the Islamic State is JV, Iraq is secure, the National Security Agency isn’t eavesdropping, Benghazi was about a video, the economy is getting better and you can keep your health plan.

The crisis of confidence in government has now reached epidemic levels, just in time for the government to bungle a possible actual epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) used to be among the few government agencies that were supposed to be incorruptible by politics. It was supposed to be like the judiciary and the Internal Revenue Service in that way.

Yet since President Obama assumed the presidency, just about every federal agency has been compromised by the leftist political agenda.

The list of corrupted agencies reads like an alphabet soup of acronyms: IRS, DOJ, DOD, VA, DOE, CIA, NSA, DHS, DEA, ICE, INS, HHS, OMB, EPA, SBA.

The CDC is not immune from the virus of rampant politicization.

According to a recent Pew poll, only 20 percent of the country has a “great deal” of confidence that the federal government will be able to prevent a widespread Ebola outbreak on U.S. soil. That number should surprise no one, given the long track record of incompetence or flat-out corruption across just about every government entity.

Why should we trust a government that couldn’t even set up a health care website to fight Ebola?

On Oct. 5, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, said: “The bottom line here is we know how to stop it. It’s not going to spread widely in the U.S. for two basic reasons. We can do infection control in hospitals, and we can do public health interventions that can stop it in its tracks.”

It is true that the disease has not yet “spread widely” here. Earlier this week, though, we had the first reported transmission of Ebola on American soil. Nina Pham, a 26-year-old nurse, who had been treating the now-deceased “Patient Zero,” Thomas Eric Duncan, contracted the virus, leading Dr. Frieden to claim that it was essentially her fault: a “breach of protocol,” as he called it. By midweek, another nurse who was on the Duncan care team tested positive for Ebola a day after she returned to Dallas from Cleveland. The CDC says it’s now monitoring more than 125 people for possible infection.

Dealing with Ebola requires medical professionals who know what they’re doing, from the top down to your local hospital.

There’s the rub: Dr. Frieden has been front and center, although many have questioned his forthrightness. However, the head of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, has been elusive. Ditto for the acting surgeon general, Rear Adm. Boris Lushniak, a physician. The nation has an Ebola czar of sorts, Dr. Nicole Lurie, whose job it is to “lead the nation in preventing, responding to and recovering from the adverse health effects of public health emergencies and disasters, ranging from hurricanes to bioterrorism,” according to the Department of Health and Human Services. She has been very quiet as well.

Meanwhile, all U.S. hospitals must be ready to identify and isolate an Ebola patient, but few actually are prepared. In fact, according to a survey by the largest professional association of registered nurses in the country, three out of four nurses say their hospital hasn’t provided sufficient education for them on the virus. National Nurses United says that out of more than 1,900 nurses in 46 states and Washington, D.C., who responded, a stunning 85 percent said their hospital hadn’t even provided educational training on Ebola, during which nurses could learn and ask questions. Many nurses report that their facilities have simply posted guidelines for spotting Ebola on hospital bulletin boards.

We have a disease the director-general of the World Health Organization has called “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times,” and our nurses are being prepared for it by Post-it note.

The government simply has not offered guidance commensurate with the nature of this viral threat. It may be because it knows how bad the situation is and doesn’t want to provoke mass panic. Or it may be because it doesn’t know what it’s doing — which is in some ways worse. Either way, medical professionals and the public do not feel they are getting accurate and timely information.

After six long years of breathtaking incompetence, negligence and corruption, most Americans no longer believe what their government tells them. The collapse in credibility of government — and confidence in government — make this particular moment so dangerous. Whether it’s the virus of Ebola, the virus of Islamic terrorism or the virus of big government, few Americans think that their government has the will and the ability to contain the things that threaten them most.

And that crisis may be the gravest threat of all.

Monica Crowley is online opinion editor at The Washington Times.

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