With estimates suggesting more than 800 people have died from the ongoing Ebola outbreak sweeping across West Africa, concerns are spreading in the United States about how federal and state authorities would react if — or when — a life-threatening virus such as Ebola begins spreading domestically. Global responses to the outbreak are also stirring fears. Considering the militarization of swine flu preparations five years ago, there is plenty of cause for alarm, experts say. Some analysts and commentators have even warned that the stage is being set for medical tyranny as illegal immigrants flood across the border and an American infected with Ebola comes to the U.S. for treatment.
The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) is also making waves with its controversial global preparations. Already, the planetary outfit claims to be “coordinating” a $100 million planetary response with its member governments. “The situation in West Africa is of international concern and must receive urgent priority for decisive action at national and international levels,” argued WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, telling African governments that the outbreak had outstripped their capacity to respond and that self-styled “global health authorities” would need to be involved.
The director general, who was just in West Africa meeting with officials in the affected countries, praised them for their “commitment” to tackling the virus — which the Wall Street Journal reported was “demonstrated this week with new measures such as deploying soldiers to quarantine stricken neighborhoods in Sierra Leone.” “This meeting must mark a turning point in the outbreak response,” Chan was quoted as telling the assembled African presidents, warning of “a security threat to response teams when fear and misunderstanding turn to anger, hostility, or violence.”
In the United States, draconian-sounding preparations are being made, too, and many have been in place for years. In an amendment to “Executive Order” 13295 signed last week, Obama, expanding on a previous order, has already purported to grant his administration vast powers to detain Americans suspected of harboring a “respiratory illness.” At the state level, a “model” law created by the feds and the WHO on “Emergency Health Powers,” which provides officials with purported powers blasted as “draconian” by critics, has been adopted in whole or in part by some four in five state governments.
While the Ebola outbreak has been largely centered in the West African nations of Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone, fears are growing about a potential global epidemic as the virus spreads. With illegal immigrants flooding across the U.S. border, it is hardly far-fetched to suppose that the disease will eventually reach American shores, too. Already, dozens of illegal immigrants from the three African countries suffering the most severe Ebola outbreaks have been apprehended crossing the U.S. border with Mexico. So what would — or could — American authorities do? The answers have more than a few analysts warning of potential government abuse.