In an ominous development Wednesday night, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued its highest level alert for a response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa, even as reports came in indicating that the crisis may now not be limited to West Africa. Centers for Disease Control Chief Tom Frieden posted on Twitter: “Ops Center moved to Level 1 response given the extension to Nigeria & the potential to affect many lives.”
According to Doug Stanglin of USA Today, Level I means that increased staff and resources will be devoted to the outbreak. He also said it is the first time the agency has invoked its highest level alert since 2009, then over a deadly influenza outbreak. Meanwhile, reports come in indicating that a Nigerian nurse, who had treated the country’s first fatality from Ebola two weeks ago, has herself now died from the virus that has claimed 932 lives as of last night in the latest outbreak.
To put this into perspective, Ebola has been recognized as a disease only since the first outbreak was identified 40 years ago. One third of the total fatalities caused by Ebola have occurred in the most recent outbreak—and the toll is rising. Health authorities in Nigeria have said that five other Nigerian health workers, who also had treated AIDS patients, have been diagnosed with the disease. One American, Patrick Sawyer, a financial expert of Liberian descent, died on July 25 arriving in Lagos on a flight from Liberia. Meanwhile, according to USA Today, a Saudi man being tested for the disease has died in Jeddah. If indeed it turns out that he died of the disease, it will be the first fatality outside West Africa during the latest outbreak. Every medical authority on the planet is on the alert.
And yet from a Christian concern we cannot leave the issue of the Ebola outbreak without turning to another kind of atrocity. In this case the atrocity was an opinion piece published just yesterday (Aug. 6) by conservative commentator Ann Coulter. Her article caught immediate attention with its title: “Ebola Doc’s Condition Downgraded to ‘Idiotic.”