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Idiocy greater threat to US than Ebola

It sounds so sensible. Ebola is a deadly disease. Unchecked, it could cause disaster in the United States, just as it is doing in Africa. So, to be sensible, quarantine those health workers who have been taking care of Ebola patients in Africa. A 21-day quarantine, while tough for the non-symptomatic patient, just makes sense.

That was the tact that those oh-so-manly, decisive governors, Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York, took (for a weekend, at least). Forget about the squishy federal guidelines or the too-soft rules of New York City that allowed people exposed to Ebola to self-monitor their temperatures. No, Govs. Christie and Cuomo decided, without consulting anyone else, to do what had to be done. Lock up those health care workers!

So nurse Kaci Hickox, on her way back to the United States from service in Africa, found herself detained at the airport, told little about what was happening and then transferred by police caravan to a quarantine tent at a New Jersey hospital. She remained there over the weekend — despite having twice been tested and twice been revealed to be Ebola-free.

She is spitting mad, and no wonder. In the face of her outspoken disgust at her treatment, Gov. Christie on Monday agreed to let Hickox return to Maine. Gov. Cuomo backed down even more, saying that health care workers in New York state can serve out their quarantines at home.

What is somewhat frightening is how many citizens agree with the governors’ over-broad quarantine order.

Quarantine, say the non-scientists, is the only way to keep America safe.

However, the science tells us this: Ebola is not contagious until the symptoms show up. High fever, vomiting and diarrhea — that’s when a person is most contagious.

Despite the panic in the U.S., the epidemic is not here. It is in Africa. Unless Ebola is stopped at the source, the rest of the world will have something to panic about. The quarantine does not make us safer. “It’s completely unnecessary,” Harvard’s Ashish Jha told the online site Vox’s Sarah Kliff. Jha’s the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute.

“I’m a believer in an abundance of caution, but I’m not a believer of an abundance of idiocy.”

Idiocy, however, is overflowing.

— The Santa Fe New Mexican