Sunday, October 19, 2014

Ebola the Halloween Scare

In Africa, Ebola is killing hundreds of people per week. Most of the people dying travel short distances to buy groceries, and if they are sick, they might not walk at all. There might be a high level of interaction between other people because many families are living very close together and that allows the disease spread more easily. But in Africa, long distance travel is not the norm.

We have had one person with Embola get into the US and the first thing that happen was that he got sent home from the emergency ward with some medications. Why?? Because he had no health insurance. Note though, he was seen by a doctor, the ER process works, but without insurance, he would have been competing for a hospital bed with someone sicker or in worse shape that could pay.

Now let’s look at reality in this country. We don’t just live and operate in a 5 mile area like in Africa. We have had one person successfully gain entrance to the country with Ebola. One of the two infected nurses that treated him, made a trip to Detroit and back to Dallas. One person that handled embola blood samples is even on a cruise trip in the Caribbean. Common sense suggests that to control a disease of this magnitude, is very easy when, most people don’t have the ability to move great distances. Once they have mobility, everyone has the potential for exposure.

If we were to eliminate flights to Africa, many suggest that it would stop nothing. I argue that it would slow them down. It could take a person 10 to 15 days to make it to an airport where they could have access to regular means of travel. So in most cases, the disease would be spotted before it went further. That is pretty much the case with immigration from Mexico, it takes about a month to get from Panama to the border into the US, and so there would not be much of a worry about Ebola infections.

The real problem that is severely understated is the fact that in the United States, we have high mobility. Do we have the resources to control several outbreaks? When you come to the realization that the resources are not there, then you understand why the battle has to be fought in Africa. We have to fix the problem there first, or we are at risk at home on a higher level. It won’t spread from village to village in this country, but rather hop city to city, like San Francisco to New York.

Our country’s emergency rooms are closing in droves, they can’t pay their bills. We even had one ER unit that was forced to stay open and was going broke slowly. All it took was for one person to die in their waiting room and the government shut them down for gross incompetence; “Please Brer Bear, don’t throw me in the briar patch.” They were not allowed to go out of business, because they served the public, but incompetence set them free. Go figure!

At the Pentagon the other day, someone threw-up in the parking lot and they called for a hazmat team. So examine our first responders. Their first question is “Do you have insurance?” Their second question is “Have you been to Africa or Dallas in the last 3 weeks?” At that point, the health care provider might be asking themselves, “Shouldn’t I be wearing some protective clothing?”

Ebola in the United States has only hit three visibly traceable people. What happens if it was to infect part of our invisible economy, a drug addict or hooker? A 6 to 8 hour wait, in an emergency waiting room, kind of turns ER into an incubation Day Care Center for Embola. What if the person arrives to ER unconscious? I guess if you are having a heart attack you don’t have to wait 8 hrs, but everyone else does. After one exhausting 6 hour visit there 30 years ago, my next visit was to Urgent Care. I showed them a credit card and saw a doctor in 5 minutes.

In this country, we have a war on who is entitled to health care and how will it be paid for. The government pays pitifully little for uninsured ER procedures, reducing the hospitals to steal from their insurance paying customers. Our government is great at appointing people to oversee a problem and issuing directives, but short on funds to really implement any sort of action.

The real worry could be a country like India with a very concentrated population, with many very affluent people traveling to or living abroad in other countries.

Ebola could change our way of life. If you think you have it, you can go sit with a bunch of others in ER for 6 hours who have some sort of stomach flu. The hospital’s employee dress code with people in orange space suits might make you wonder a bit, but then you’d realize that it’s kind of hard to throw up wearing one of those suits, so it wouldn't do you much good to be wearing one. Of course, ABC reports that the Dallas hospital that had the first case now resembles a ghost town. It’s kind of vacant. The good news, there is no wait time at that emergency room, just come on down.

Thousands die in Africa every week and one of them made it stateside. Presently three schools are closed in Cleveland and a commercial airplane has been taken out of service, so they can be decontaminated. ABC reported that “There are four hospitals with bio containment facilities in the United States, and they have 11 beds that can be used at any one time for Ebola patients,”--- and four of them are in use.

An orange hazmat suit, looks like the ideal Halloween costume, the color fits as does the symbolism it represents. 8 billion people in the world and Embola could kill 5.7 billion of them if we drag our feet on this. Congress with it's excessive hubris, won't do much, its an election year and an incubation period of 21 days is too short an interval to have a public opinion on. I’m just hoping the disease is more partial to Democrats who are for everything.

Remember one thing, the problem will go away if we do nothing. And when you think about it, oddly that's correct, if we are not around, the problem ceases to exist.


dearieme said...

One thing that virtually everyone of any political persuasion agrees on is that public health, in its classical meaning of containing infectious disease, is a government duty. My own view is that the absurd over-expansion of government, and the short-sighted, dim-witted desires of the demos, practically guarantee that government in the US will perform that duty badly, if at all.

Still, there must be a chance that they'll launch a new war in hopes of distracting the electorate. Eventually even that trick might not work, of course. Roll on the day.

Joseph Oppenheim said...

Ebola vaccines are already being tested. Only congressional obstructionists kept it from happening sooner, reducing NIH funding.

Not profitable for companies to help some poor Africans. Needed public investment.

So, current panic makes it possible.

DMac said...

@ Joseph Oppenheim

"Soon after the isolation of EBO virus in 1976"

.......Already being tested??


Paco Bell said...

Why, if l was the suspicious sort, the kind of person who could see through .gov charades being clumsily portrayed, l might conclude .gov WANTS very much for Obola to spread as wide and fast as possible so the new 'Khzar' could expand his empire, enabling spending of vast resources of Fedscrip. If only Obola would cooperate.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi dearieme

I agree, that government should protect us from disease, but as you suggest, they are ill equipped for the job.

What worries me, is that the easiest way for this disease to spread is in a war zone. From there it could jump to a high population area with health resources at a very low ratio to population, like India

Anonymous said...

Bet Jim thought the most recent market correction was THE ONE!
The One he has been waiting for. ever since 2006, 8 years and counting...

dearieme said...

You seem to be confusing two different sorts of nasty things, Joseph.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon 9:26

Interestingly enough the recent drop could be a precursor to the big one.

The Federal Reserve ends it's bond buying this month. Nobody ever bothers to point out that the bond market is 10 times bigger than the stock market. Oil has dropped $25 a barrel and the Arabs have to pump more for less money to finance their budgets.

If I remember correctly individuals owned 70 percent of the stocks in 1929, while now, I would guess that 70 percent are owned by retirement funds. So in today's market, if these funds were to react to market conditions and sell everything, they would be out of a job. That lends stability to the stock market.

People in general don't understand the disconnect between a company like IBM and the shares on the stock market. The market determines the price. The owners of the stock buy and sell them to other "investors." All IBM does is track who currently owns the shares it issued way back when using a "transfer agent" and they distribute dividends, if there are any. The question arises now and then about the high values of some of these stocks.

I started this blog in 2006 to point out the coming real estate crash. None of the hecklers ever came back to say they were wrong.

I guess it goes to illustrate a belief of mine, "We can all be right, but we all can't be right at the same moment in time."

My moment in time is out there, no crash has a date of predictability, but it does have an ever so more expectancy to happen even though it will be very unexpected by most investors.

Anonymous said...

Have to give credit, where credit is due.
Jim you called the glut of crude inventories and the resulting slide in oil prices!

I believe it was $65...not too far from the 70's.
Nice work.

Jim in San Marcos said...

Hi Anon 6:50

Thank you for remembering to way back when . . .

If the underlying assumption is right, the Arab countries have to pump more to ensure the same revenues to support their government budgets without imputing austerity measures.

I think we saw the first sale of WTI to a foreign nation refinery the other day. We don't have the processing capacity because of pipeline issues from the gulf to Cushing Ok. This sale could be a harbinger of a drop of the spread between WTI and Brent crude.

Prices could drop a lot further, the economic health of the world is in question.

Joseph Oppenheim said...

Oil is priced in dollars. The dollar has been going up.

The Saudis are caught in a mess. Raising prices also rewards Russia and worst for them, Iran.

Plus, Iran more inclined to a nuclear deal, since lower oil price does hurt them, so less sanctions more important.

Plus, technology will continue to lower fracking costs in the US.

The US, along with Canada and Mexico, together are an oil powerhouse, especially since Mexico just opened up to US investment in their oil industry. Mexico also has lots of fracking potential.

Plus, the US is the natural gas king of the world, with more gas replacing oil in heating homes and gasoline in trucks,buses,etc.

Anonymous said...

And Joe, you didn't invest in ILMN when it was below 100 and I told to look at it a year ago, it wasn't your type of stock. So please don't act like you foresaw the drop in crude prices, very people did, and Jim was one of the very few. You think you have it all figured out but you don't, nobody knows.

Either way, Jim went out on the lime and made a tough call that nobody thought would happen.

Shuut up and pay your dues.

Hazmat Suit Halloween said...

An orange hazmat suit, looks like the ideal Halloween costume, the color fits as does the symbolism it represents. 8 billion people in the world ...