America’s Ebola “crisis” prompted concerns, created some needed awareness here and about the real problem in Africa, and was otherwise stupidly magnified by 24/7 cable television and Election Day next week.
But Ebola is not a crisis. A handful of people in America were exposed to the disease, and one died. Others either never had it, or recovered. Here’s just one of many thoughtful editorials about the disconnect.
According to the National Center for Health Statistics, a division of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — the agency critics seem to think has failed in dealing with Ebola — there are many more causes of death politicians and cable news anchors could get lathered about. These include, for 2011, the latest year available:
187,464 people died from injuries;
46,047 from poisoning;
33,783 from motor vehicle accidents;
32,351 from firearms;
Not that these causes are ignored by politicians or the media, but they show what a non-crisis Ebola really is, at least in America.
A nurse from Maine, who returned from West Africa to a forced quarantine in a New Jersey hospital, would seem to have every right to protest. She never had Ebola, nor its early symptoms. These are irrational fears. They do not constitute a crisis.
If New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie really thinks he’s “protecting the people of New Jersey,” by quarantining nurse Kaci Hickox and that’s his highest priority, he ought to be walking the streets of Trenton, Newark and Paterson to help crime victims.
Preparedness is positive. Training health-care workers to keep them and their patients safe is smart. Acting like nearly 300 million Americans face imminent threat from Ebola is exaggerated and irresponsible, a craven play on fears to boost ratings.
You want a crisis? Look to Chicago’s gun wars; Detroit’s poverty; Miami’s drug running; San Diego’s immigrant challenges.
Let’s not overuse the word, lest we don’t recognize a real crisis.
The content of this blog is about crisis management and mismanagement in a digital age. It originates with Steve Bell, who spent 30 years as a journalist for the Associated Press and in four top editor positions at The Buffalo News. He is now Partner/Director of Public Affairs and Crisis and Reputation Management at Eric Mower + Associates, one of the nation’s largest independent advertising, integrated marketing and public relations agencies, with seven offices in the East. Learn more about EMA at mowerpr.com/crisisready. Steve’s blog is based on his own opinions and does not represent the views or positions of Eric Mower + Associates.