Indeed. Here's a breakdown of all the problems:
1. Hubris. US government agencies (policymakers, public health officers, and elected officials) and private healthcare providers (hospitals) assumed that a substantial driving force for the spread of Ebola in West Africa is due to their lack of a developed healthcare system. In other words, these agencies thought that Ebola could be easily contained were it to occur in the US simply by taking appropriate precautions. That, as we have seen, is incorrect: the infection of two nurses proves that once someone is sick, it takes a great deal of diligence to avoid coming into contact with their infected blood, diarrhea, and vomit. Consider how many US hospitals have a difficult time as it is controlling other infectious diseases that are typically only found in the hospital setting--MRSA, C. difficile, MDR tuberculosis, etc. This demonstrates that establishing a complete barrier is not something most hospitals are either economically or physically equipped to do. Yet officials persist in saying that "Ebola isn't really that easy to trasmit."
2. Failure to consider severity. In insurance, we consider Exposure = Frequency x Severity. Exposure represents exposure to risk. Frequency represents the probability of a loss (or in this case, we might model it as the likelihood of dying of Ebola). Severity represents the costs associated with a loss (in this case, death). The problem is that many people are focused on the minuscule frequency, but the true exposure to risk is not merely quantified by this tiny, tiny probability. Moreover, this simple model must also be expanded to consider that frequency is a time-dependent function of the number at risk and the infectivity of the disease. Epidemiologists can model this much more easily than I can, but I guarantee you that they will have to do some HEAVY revising because what we have seen of the way these recent cases have been handled, the potential for error is enormous. If Ebola gets a foothold here--and this is not a negligibly small probability--then there are going to be some serious problems controlling its spread due to the fact that Americans are a LOT more mobile. Again, we saw this with these two nurses. One got on a flight while sick.
3. Politics and messaging. I think the notion of an "Ebola czar" is absurd. Such a role does not need to exist except for the sole purpose of having someone to be the scapegoat if everything goes tits up, and that's really what this idiot is about. It's about having someone to pin the blame onto. The people talking about how this is all being blown out of proportion have a point, but their opinion is largely based on the current state of affairs--one dead man who flew in from Liberia and two nurses. We need to take into consideration that if things do not shape up in West Africa REAL FAST, and if more American health workers go there and possibly come back infected, we really could lose control here faster than you can blink an eye. We really are on a knife's edge here. I cannot overstate how precarious this situation is. That said, this is not a reason for panic: the public doesn't have any control over the situation, except to not travel to West Africa at this time. But it is definitely a reason to not buy into the messaging that we've been hearing about Ebola, because the politicians keep telling us it's not a big deal that they keep fucking up.