Chapman’s News & Ideas Assignment Editors, Attention: Ebola Story Not Adequately Reported

All the coverage of Ebola seems to be about patients who have come down with the disease and about who else might have become infected. Governments say not to worry. Okay, fine.

But where are the reporters following up on the fact that a couple of Americans who caught the disease in Africa came home and were treated–and apparently cured–with new, experimental medications? What are the medications that were used? Who is saying that there isn’t enough time to make new doses of them and who is examining the explanations? What would the cost be to run a crash program to produce the medications? What red tape needs to be cut,and by whom, in order to speed these medications into production?

Also, what are the treatments that are being used on Thomas Duncan, the Ebola patient in Dallas, and other sufferers who have found their way to modern hospitals? What is the recovery rate for people treated properly (hydration, blood transfusions, etc.) as opposed to the rate of death for those with little or no care? It may be a very big difference. Wouldn’t it help calm the American public if people knew that efficacious care is available that greatly improves survival rates? As is, Ebola is becoming a huge scare that threatens to dehumanize victims and lead to strange public behavior by others. The frightening developments in Africa, where medical staff and facilities are few, is wrongly being imputed (at least in people’s imaginations) to the United States, where medical institutions and staff are much more numerous and up-to-date.

It seems to me that news organization assignment editors should be chasing down the avenues available for optimal survival (whether the new trial medications or the best current hospital care) instead of merely continuing to chase after the possible contacts of existing patients. If I were a reporter, I think I’d be camping out at the CDC offices and at HHS and Capitol Hill. There are a lot of apparently unexplored–or under-explored–leads.