Congressman Darrell Issa (R, CA) calls Guinea “Guyana” and Ebola “E.boli.” Video by Rachel Maddow.
Differing Reports On U.S. Soldiers In Liberia
Some sources are claiming that the U.S. soldiers being sent to Liberia to help stop the spread of Ebola are only getting 4 hours of training. This number seemed to originate with The Daily Beast, which stated: “Soldiers preparing for deployment to West Africa are given just four hours of Ebola-related training before leaving to combat the epidemic.”
Other sources like Newsmax or The American Thinker are quoting the Daily Beast.
At the same time, Slate is claiming that they get two weeks of training.
Slate: “They undertook a two-week, 14-session course to prepare specifically for Ebola, beginning with lessons on what it is, how it’s spread, and what its symptoms are.” Slate also states, “Refresher courses will be given throughout the mission.”
The UK Daily Mail claims the soldiers only get 4 hours of training, but adds a word to describe it: “hazmat.”
“U.S. soldiers are being flown to West Africa to combat Ebola following just four hours of hazmat training…”
Does this mean the 4 hours refers to hazmat-only training?
Most publications agree that there are between 500 and 600 American troops on the ground in the West African region now. However, some sources state that “at least 700 members of the division will deploy” soon.
USA Today (from October 17th): “There are 547 U.S. troops there, primarily in Liberia though some are in Senegal, according to the Pentagon.
USA Today (from October 9th): “At least 700 members of the division will deploy to Liberia starting next week as part of the U.S. military’s 4,000-soldier humanitarian mission, which is expected to last up to a year and is aimed at building 17 100-bed Ebola care centers and training hundreds of health care workers.”
The Daily Mail: “So far, there are 547 U.S. troops in West Africa, serving in Senegal and Liberia, where they have reportedly been holing up in improvised quarters in hotels and local government facilities.”
The Daily Beast: “There are just over 500 military service members in West Africa, serving in Senegal and Liberia.”
Slate: “The American operation is the largest military foreign aid effort in the region to fight Ebola: Congress has so far approved $750 million for the mission, and about 600 military personnel are already on the ground.”
The total number of troops to be sent seems to vary from 3000 to 4000.
Slate: “Some 3,500 to 4,000 American troops are being deployed to Liberia to help efforts to quell the Ebola outbreak devastating the region.”
The UK Daily Mail: “Yesterday, it was reported that the U.S. Army is preparing to provide as many as 3,000 troops to help combat the Ebola epidemic.”
USA today gives a number of 4000 total troops: “At least 700 members of the division will deploy to Liberia starting next week as part of the U.S. military’s 4,000-soldier humanitarian mission, which is expected to last up to a year and is aimed at building 17 100-bed Ebola care centers and training hundreds of health care workers.”
There seems to be a general consensus on the mission:
Again, USA Today states that the mission “…is expected to last up to a year and is aimed at building 17 100-bed Ebola care centers and training hundreds of health care workers.”
Stars and Stripes states the same thing.
The Daily Beast: “A major part of their mission is logistics and construction: The U.S. military is building a 25-bed hospital and 17 Ebola treatment units, as well as training health-care providers in Liberia.”
The Uk Daily Mail: “This is while the military builds a 25-bed hospital, ‘life support areas’ and 17 treatment centers in Liberia, where they can train local professionals to care for and conduct tests on potential victims.”
How exposed will the troops be to the virus?
The UK Daily Mail:
“Despite the trainers’ apparent shock tactics, the Army maintains that the risk of soldiers contracting the virus is minimal because it is airborne and they will not have contact with sick patients.
‘It’s been shown that this disease is most manifest when handling bodily fluid—blood, other sorts of fluids, said Major General Darryl Williams, who leads America’s operations center in Liberia.
“‘There is no plan right now for U.S. soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to do that’.”
“The soldiers, with specialties in areas such as combat hospitals, aviation, logistics, transportation and engineering, will not be providing direct treatment or having contact with Ebola patients, so the risk is considered to be low, said Lt. Col. Brian DeSantis, the 101st Airborne’s spokesman.
“But at Thursday’s safety training, soldiers were briefed on how Ebola is spread and what symptoms to look for. They were told to seek medical care at the first sign of trouble and not to shake hands or touch residents. They were told not to eat or drink anything that wasn’t provided by the U.S. government.”
According to Slate:
“Though troops are prepared to suit up to keep them from contracting Ebola, the scope of the military operation is intended to limit their direct interaction with patients. Their mission is to help build infrastructure and care facilities and to work with public health organizations on transportation. The U.S. Agency for International Development, the World Health Organization, and the Liberian government are taking on more of the responsibilities of training local communities and public health workers and testing, isolating, and treating patients.”
The Daily Beast:
“The first 500 American troops in Liberia are so far living in improvised quarters in hotels and government building, according to congressional and military sources.
“’The hotels are fairly well controlled in terms of access… They have a fairly well-structured screening process going in and out,’ a Senate aide briefed by the Pentagon on the military’s procedures told The Daily Beast. ‘It sounds like they have an adequate level of screening and protective measures in place. That being said, once they move to a self-contained quarters, that will probably be better.’
“The military maintains that American service members have only limited interactions with locals on the ground. But some American soldiers are working with the Armed Forces of Liberia on a day-to-day basis, and others are training health-care providers on how to combat the virus.
“Further, the military acknowledges that it is currently sharing hotels and businesses with foreign nationals.
“‘We are here with the permission of the Liberian government and we do not clear out local hotels and businesses during our stay,’ said an Army spokesman. ‘We chose hotels with the safety of our service members in mind, and the hotel staffs monitor all employees and guests and allow us to conduct safety inspections of their facilities to ensure they meet our safety criteria.'”
“Soldiers based in Liberia have their temperature measured several times per day, and are not permitted to shake hands. They are also are required to frequently wash their hands with a chlorine solution. Some locations even employ chlorine mats that service members are required to wipe their feet on in order to enter.
“’The facilities that we’re in have been vetted by our doctors. [They] have gone through the facilities to make sure that they’re safe for our soldiers,’ Army spokesman Lt. Col. Michael Indovina said. ‘We’re very confident. We’ve had very good luck from the time when we’ve arrived on the ground.’”
Confusion Over Direct Flights To And From West Africa
There seems to be a fair amount of confusion over whether the U.S. has direct flights to or from the Ebola-stricken West African nations.
Some sources claim that there are no direct flights from the U.S. to or from the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea and there were none to begin with. The only way to come to the U.S. from those countries is by taking a connecting flight, usually through Europe.
According to ABC News (AP):
There are no direct flights from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone to the U.S. Officials say that about 150 passengers a day arrive in the U.S. from those countries after making a connecting flight, usually in Europe. Most arrive at one of five airports, where screening for fever — a symptom of the disease — began this week.
That is how the Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Duncan came to the U.S. Sources state Duncan took a flight from Liberia to Belgium. He then flew from Belgium to Dulles in Washington D.C. and then on to Dallas-Forth Worth.
What are the flight bans like in other countries?
The publication The Province states:
United Kingdom: No formal ban. No direct flights from the three affected countries to London’s Heathrow Airport since British Airways suspended service there in August due to the outbreak. There is passenger screening at Heathrow and soon at two other airports.
Germany: No ban and no plans for one. There is no formal monitoring or screening of arriving passengers. Like the U.S., Germany doesn’t have any direct flights from those three African countries.
France: The government advises against non-essential travel to Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone. Air France suspended flights to Sierra Leone but has maintained once-a-day flights from Guinea, a former colony. Beginning Saturday, temperature checks for passengers arriving in Paris from the Guinean capital of Conakry.
Netherlands: The government advises against travel to the same three nations and urges Dutch citizens in those countries to leave. No direct flights. Currently no extra screening at Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, although passengers on flights to and from Nigeria receive flyers with information about Ebola.
Ireland: No ban planned. No Ebola monitoring at airports. Ryanair flies to Morocco but not to any of the countries in the Ebola epidemic. The U.S. has customs stations at Dublin and Shannon airports for U.S.-bound travellers.
Czech Republic: Starting Tuesday, medical checks at Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport for passengers who visited Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone in the previous 42 days.
Albania: No ban.
Turkey: Passengers from Liberia and Nigeria are undergoing more intensive screening. Those with high fever or other symptoms are being quarantined. Six travelers suspected of having Ebola turned out to have malaria instead.
Apparently the “flight bans” instituted by England and France are voluntary bans by the airline companies British Airways and Air France themselves.
Congressman Dennis Ross Direct Flight Ban:
According to the Huffington Post, Friday on MSNBC, Rep. Dennis Ross (R-Fla.) argued that instituting a flight ban makes sense and said he plans to introduce a bill doing so once Congress reconvenes in November.
The problem is that there are no direct flights to and from the U.S. and Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea.
“I believe we can nip this in the bud, if you will, at least by banning those flights temporarily until such time as the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] believes the epidemic is under control and also make sure we don’t issue visas to travelers from over there. We have a good border patrol, believe it or not, and they can catch these people with fake passports and fake visas as they come across the border. It just seems to me we ought to have the debate on this and flush this out and that’s why I filed the bill to allow for the banning of these flights,” he said.
Since there are no direct flights between the hardest-hit nations and the United States, the Florida Republican was pressed to specifically identify which flights he wanted to impose restrictions on.
“I believe there are some flights,” Ross responded.
“There are no flights. There are no direct flights that come to the United States from West Africa. That is incorrect,” rebutted New York Times reporter Jeremy W. Peters.
“Then we don’t have any problem. Everybody’s contained, correct?” Ross responded sarcastically. “They are not. They are traveling. They are traveling.”
It is true they are traveling – from connecting flights from other countries.