Despite the Obama administration’s efforts to assure the public it’s prepared to handle Ebola in the United States, Americans seem to be losing confidence in the government’s ability to respond to an outbreak.
A new Gallup poll shows 52 percent of adults say they’re confident the government is prepared to handle Ebola – down 8 percentage points from last week.
The drop in confidence comes just weeks after the U.S.’s first Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Duncan infected two health care workers who were caring for him, and the hospital’s handling of the case was heavily criticized. It sparked concern about how to handle and treat patients with Ebola.
Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has acknowledged the response to Duncan’s case could have been better – and has since announced new efforts to better prepare health centers for possible additional cases. In the last week it’s issued updated guidelines to how hospitals should treat potential Ebola patients.
But it’s not all bad news. This morning, health officials announced that the American freelance journalist who contracted Ebola in Liberia, Ashoka Mukpo, has been declared Ebola-free after several weeks of treatment at a Nebraska hospital.
Meanwhile, other agencies have also been stepping up their efforts. The Department of Homeland Security yesterday announced new travel restrictions: People coming into the U.S. from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must now fly into either Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, New York John F. Kennedy, Newark New Jersey or Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson and undergo a thorough health screening process.
Some lawmakers have repeatedly called on the Obama administration to go even further and completely ban travel in and out of Ebola-stricken countries. However, health officials have pushed back, saying travel bans would only hinder global efforts to stop the deadly outbreak in West Africa that has killed more than 4,500 people so far.
The Gallup poll’s findings also reveal a partisan split in terms of who’s more confident in the government’s response to Ebola. This isn’t surprising, of course, especially just weeks before the midterms, where the administration’s Ebola preparedness has become a major campaign issue in several close Senate races.
Gallup says that 71 percent of Democrats are confident that the federal government is prepared to handle an Ebola outbreak, compared to just 37 percent of Republicans.
Still, the poll suggests that most Americans aren’t too concerned about a major outbreak happening here at home, despite the media’s relentless Ebola hysteria over the past few weeks.
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