First, the good news: Despite feared cases in Hawaii, New Jersey and Washington, D.C., there is still only one Ebola patient who by all accounts became symptomatic while walking around freely in the United States.
Sure, the hospital sent Thomas Eric Duncan home the first time he came to the emergency room. Sure, a homeless man who had contact with Duncan was missing for a while. Sure, Duncan’s family was quarantined in an apartment with possibly-infected sheets. Sure, the Centers for Disease Control says not to worry.
“That’s how you stop it in its tracks,” CDC director Thomas Frieden told CNN Sunday of the agency’s monitoring of those who could have caught Ebola from Duncan. “That’s why we’re confident we won’t see a large number of cases from this.”
But assume for a second that the CDC — a fallible agency staffed by fallible humans — could be wrong. Assume that it may have misjudged the number of Duncan’s contacts, as it did when it said it needed to monitor only “a handful” of people who Duncan put at risk. (The number quickly leaped to 100.) And assume that, as one unnamed federal official told CNN, monitoring flights for Ebola is “not as easy as it sounds.”
Assume, though it may make no sense, that Ebola is a more of a danger in the U.S. than officials think now. In survivalist parlance, what is your “SHTF plan” — that is, your plan for when the (s)— (h)its (t)he (f)an?