Effect Measure

TB to go doesn’t go anywhere

It is not news that the Atlanta lawyer who had/didn’t have Extremely Drug Resistant TB early in the year didn’t infect anyone when he flew — against advice or was it against orders? — from Europe back to the US via Canada and through New York despite a no fly (or not?) order from CDC (or DHS?). Everything about this case was cocked up — the diagnosis, the communication with the patient, the communication with the public, the communication between federal agencies, state agencies and local health agencies (see our posts here). The fact that no one who sat close to him or further from him or nowhere near him was infected is one of the few things everyone agrees on:

Preliminary data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show about 250 passengers aboard the same Air France flight on May 12 have been tested for the disease.

None, including 25 passengers sitting nearest to Speaker, appears to have been infected during the flight.

Canadian health officials, who were responsible for investigating Speaker’s return flight from the Czech Republic to Montreal on May 24, also found no evidence Speaker spread the disease.

The Public Health Agency of Canada focused on the 29 passengers seated closest to the Atlanta lawyer on the Czech Air flight. “We are six months out now from the time of exposure, and there still continues to be no evidence of transmission,” said Dr. Tom Wong, director of the community-acquired infections division of the Public Health Agency of Canada. (AP via Canadian Broadcasting)

Everyone is relieved and most public health people are not surprised. He was told — for good reason — he was not contagious. He wasn’t coughing, didn’t have symptoms, was not shedding bacteria that anyone knew. This young lawyer came in for extreme and often vile public criticism when it was the incompetent authorities who at least equally at fault.

He at least had the excuse of panic. Come to think of it, maybe CDC has that excuse, too.


  1. #1 Mark P
    November 29, 2007

    This reminds me of the treatment that Richard Jewell, a security guard at the Atlanta Olympics, got at the hands of the FBI, who were sure that he was the Olympic Park bomber. They thoroughly trashed him in the media, with the full cooperation of the media. Of course Jewell was not the bomber, but who cares? It was a damned good story, wasn’t it?

  2. #2 Charles Roten
    November 29, 2007

    This is what you get when you have a bunch of pig-ignorant corrupt predatory opportunists placed in charge of the government.

    These guys make Temuchin’s Mongols look good. Because after the initial massacres, Mongols tended to be competent governors. Most of this crowd couldn’t find their asses with both hands and a map.

    We have brewed ourselves up a fine lot of neobarbarians out of the primordial slime of old familiar time-honored elements of American culture: political corruption, religious fanaticism, and anti-intellectualism.

  3. #3 PFT
    November 29, 2007

    IMO it was never about public safety. It played out like a government psyops exercise to condition the public on accepting the governments right to restrict your travel for the public good, on their say so, even if the grounds for doing so seem flawed. How much time do you think Fox and CNN will give to the news that no one got TB from this case.

    Most people don’t know it but starting from February next year Americans will be unable to fly without permission from the Department of Homeland Security. If you make a reservation on short notice (less than 3 days for a family or business emergency) and approval has not been received by the DHS, the airline will be unable by law to issue you a boarding pass. If you make the reservation in advance, you may still be denied and never know why, although supposedly you can appeal the ruling to the DHS (good luck).

    Shortly after this case we saw Canada (patient to US) and Taiwan (patients to China) following the US example on exposing their patients health to other countries.

    It may be part of an effort that has been reported to get other countries on board to share more information on international travellers, which includes health information, sexual preference, credit card and other financial and personal data. This information can then be used by each country to deny entry to a traveller they deem a threat.

    So the incompetent health authorities probably received a medal or bonus for a job well done. Mission Accomplished.

    The conspiracy theorists say is just one part of the plan for the one world global government police state that is being created step by step under the auspices of globalization. The sheep laugh.

    Before the Senate is a bill expected to be approved, since it passed 402-6 in the House. It is called the Home Grown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007. In it, environmentalists, anti-globalization groups and others , are included in a list of people or groups deemed potential terrorists. The sheep say Baah. “In Government We Trust”. (Founding Fathers roll over in their 200 year old graves).

  4. #4 Caledonian
    November 29, 2007

    This young lawyer came in for extreme and often vile public criticism when it was the incompetent authorities who at least equally at fault.

    I agree – clearly the patient AND the authorities should share the blame.

    But that’s not an argument against the “extreme and vile” criticism – it’s just that it should be directed towards everyone involved instead of just the patient.

    Keelhaul them all!

  5. #5 revere
    November 29, 2007

    Caledonian: I consider it an argument against. I tried to put myself in his place — scared shitless, away from home in a foreign country, told I had a lethal disease that could only be treated in the states (not true, by the way) and I wonder how I’d act. He did the wrong thing but I understand it. CDC, on the other hand . . .

  6. #6 M. Randolph Kruger
    November 29, 2007

    On the flipside of that folks, what if he had a flaming case of SARS or H5N1….You are right. Its about the ability of the US to detain someone. Speaker knew he was sick when he left, he was and is thought to have been fairly bright. Daddy in law to be was a TB specialist. But again the flip side to this. Is there a flop. Revere be honest here. If he had been coughing you would have said what? If he had been symptomatic?

    Put yourself in his place. He just wanted to get married in Santorini. I doubt that he didnt consult with Daddy in Law. In fact I am sure he did before he bolted. But if anyone of those people had contracted it and sued, the CDC and the doctor would they have been liable for failure in judgement? Conjecture of course. But if you have a communicable disease (not talking about colds an seasonal flu here) common sense says no.

    I might have done the same thing though in all honesty. The question is and this is a big one and it really applies to the pandemic….Does someone have the right to ignore the orders if given? Do they have the right to possibly infect others? Those questions better get answered and in writing soon as guidelines and law before the poo-pooh hits the rotary grinder.

  7. #7 Charles Roten
    November 29, 2007

    Does someone have the right to ignore the orders if given?

    Good question.

    If this “someone” has not sworn a service oath, then absent a warrant or some other lawful instrument conferring the authority upon the issuer of the orders, the answer is “no”.

    Unless that “someone” is living in a police state, of course, in which case the answer is that the “someone” has no rights.

    If this “someone” has sworn a service oath, and the orders contravene laws that govern the scope and exercise of that oath, then the answer is again “no”. With the above caveat, of course.

  8. #8 Caledonian
    November 29, 2007

    I tried to put myself in his place — scared shitless, away from home in a foreign country, told I had a lethal disease that could only be treated in the states

    Believing that his original diagnosis was grossly underestimating the seriousness of his condition, and not knowing whether he had become contagious or not, he took an international flight home.

    The fact that he wasn’t actually contagious and didn’t actually make anyone sick is utterly irrelevant. As far as he knew, he was a walking biohazard, and he chose to put his personal survival over the lives of dozens of passengers, and possibly hundreds or even thousands of others. If he HAD been infectious with an antibiotic-resistant form of TB, how much damage would he have caused? How many lives would he likely have been responsible for?

    His life wasn’t worth the risk he thought he was taking. Keelhaul him.

  9. #9 M. Randolph Kruger
    November 30, 2007

    I am of two minds on this and its only based upon the start out of the gate. He knew he was sick, he was advised NOT to travel. He denies this of course and to this day. I did notice when he was testifying before Congress it was via phone though. Once gone, he became the subject of an international man hunt and created a huge mess for the US State Dept.

    CDC/Fulton County ineptness? Partially, but its like most things with kids, you tell them no and they do it anyway. Only problem with this is the “what if” and that being if something/or someone had been infected. Same with SARS/H5N1…. What do we do if someone deliberately ignores what the health officials say during the pandemic? Do we have the right to shoot to injure? Shoot to kill?

    The answer is that in a declared state of emergency a governor or the President may in fact suspend the constitution. The constitution makes a provision for this and its pretty unspecified about duration. Kind of like Marcos 25 years of martial law. He had to sign a declaration ending it or face a revolution. I would think that as heavily armed as we are here that said revolution would occur within weeks after a declaration and the passage of a resolution of the Congress. No signature required for that and they can override a state of emergency, with 2/3rds simple majority.

    Really to an extent we owe Speaker a lot. He brought something to the attention of the people. TB for starts and constitutional and law issues second that will be played out in the thousands if pandemic comes.

  10. #10 Mark P
    November 30, 2007

    It has never been made clear exactly what he was told and when. At this point, it will never be clear unless a whistleblower tells, because the government has demonstrated too many times that it cannot be trusted to tell the truth. What they say might be true, but its truth cannot be determined simply from the fact that they say it.

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