Worth Reading: “How Ebola Roared Back” by the New York Times

I read the New York Times almost every day for 20 years. I started simply because it was required reading when I was in Journalism school back in the 1980s. (Seriously, there were weekly quizzes on current affairs based on what the NYT covered.) I continued reading it when I lived and worked in New York City, where it really was the official record of business.  I kept up even after I left the city for greener pastures. but over time, my fondness for The Grey Lady waned and my disgust increased as its politics and mine grew apart. Sometime after 9/11, I could no longer stomach their liberal view on topics like gun control, the War in Iraq, and politics, so I cancelled my subscription.

I should note that I continue to read the Wall Street Journal, which has grown in stature and in breadth of coverage during the same period in which the New York Times diminished. (Not unlike Fox News growing at the expense of CNN.)

Despite my disagreements with their editorial biases, I cannot ignore the fact that the NYT occasionally produce stories that are well worth reading. This lengthy piece on Ebola Viral Disease, how it grew undetected, and how it got to be the epidemic it is today, is one of those stories that rises to the top of that pile.  I encourage you to read it as one of your free 10 articles per month, per device.)

Ebola Warning SignThe results of a two-month investigation into why this outbreak was not contained after the initial outbreak =– like those before it — has heroes and villains, governments and NGOs, alarmists and those who downplayed the dangers, patient zeroes and patient 20,000. It’s an in-depth look mistakes, misunderstandings, and the inevitable dangers that are brought on by fear, denial, and a lack of knowledge.

It is also well produced in this online format, something they do not always get right.

A few basic takeaways from the article:

  • When it comes to disease, the government, NGOs, doctors and other learned men  may mean well but their mistakes can kill you.  As always, you need to look out for yourself and question everything.
  • Epidemics are best avoided. Even considering that this one is still quite mild, when viewed in a historical perspective, it may not remain mild, and it may not be the only epidemic we could face.  Be alert and be prepared.  Do not assume that a drop in media coverage equates to a reduction in danger.
  • There is no better answer to avoid contamination during and epidemic than social isolation and self-quarantine, with the possible exception of evacuation to an area where there is no disease.
  • Ignorance and assumptions (yours or someone else’s) can kill you.  Stay informed.



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