Hating on the Feds, Until….

I realize the remarks of politicians should not be imputed to the entire populations they govern or represent. But still, it’s hard to avoid noting that Texas–the very sovereign State of Texas, I should clarify, where the federal government is generally not welcome–was at a loss in dealing with a single Ebola case until the feds stepped in (per a WaPo tick-tock on the Dallas situation):

CDC Director Thomas Frieden expressed regret Tuesday that his agency had not done more to help the hospital control the infection. He said that, from now on, “Ebola response teams” will travel within hours to any hospital in the United States with a confirmed Ebola case. Already, one of those teams is in Texas and has put in place a site-manager system, requiring that someone monitor the use of personal protective equipment.

“I wish we had put a team like this on the ground the day the first patient was diagnosed,” he said. “That might have prevented this infection.”

In the Duncan case, the CDC sent disease detectives to help track down people who might have been exposed, but the agency largely let the hospital handle its own infection control.

That was a mistake.

Eventually CDC training will equip many hospitals to handle Ebola cases in ways that don’t actually spread the disease. But it would be helpful to see some after-the-fact reflection on why the resources of a central government are sometimes necessary to avoid catastrophe.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.