Democracy Now! October 15, 2014
As a second healthcare worker at Dallas’ Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital tests positive for Ebola after caring for patient Thomas Eric Duncan, the Centers for Disease Control has identified what it calls a "large group" of other workers who may still be at risk. Ebola patients are also being treated at the Nebraska Medical Center and the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, but so far no workers there have contracted the virus. This comes as the country’s largest nurses union, National Nurses United, says hospitals across the country are largely unready to take in Ebola patients and have failed to adequately train healthcare workers and provide necessary protective gear. In a conference call Tuesday, the union’s co-president Deborah Burger said nurses at the Dallas hospital described having to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments, and were worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for a patient with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting. We are joined by the co-president of National Nurses United, Karen Higgins, who works as an intensive care unit nurse in Boston, and hear from Democracy Now! co-host Juan González, who reports on the nurses’ concerns in his latest column for the New York Daily News.
Although the rate of new Ebola infections has slowed in some areas, the World Health Organization says it would be premature to read that as a success. New WHO projections suggest there could be between 5,000 and 10,000 new cases a week by December. The head of the United Nations Mission for Ebola Emergency Response told the U.N. Security Council that the steps implemented by the international community are not enough to halt the advance of the fatal disease. "This is an international humanitarian and health crisis," says Lawrence Gostin, university professor and faculty director at the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University. Gostin says privatized healthcare has undermined the U.S. response to Ebola, with a lack of available vaccines and access to proper care. "Much of our innovation is driven by the private sector, and from their point of view, Ebola was not a predictable disease and those who got Ebola were too poor to pay for it." We are also joined by Karen Higgins, co-president of National Nurses United.
Protests continue in the southern Mexican state of Guerrero over the disappearance of 43 teachers’ college students missing for more than two weeks following a police ambush. More than 20 police have been detained and accused of collaborating with a drug gang, Guerreros Unidos, that has ties to the city’s mayor, who has fled. Fears over the students’ fate have escalated following the discovery of 10 mass graves. But on Tuesday, Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo said DNA tests showed none of the 28 bodies tested so far belong to the missing students. "This particular attack reflects … decades of criminalization of these schools, and a situation where in the current Mexican government it is really hard to tell where the state begins, and where drug cartels end," says Tanalís Padilla, associate professor of Latin American history at Dartmouth College, who is writing a book on the history of rural normal schools in Mexico. Padilla says the schools offer education to low-income students unserved by the public school system, and have a legacy of political radicalism that has prompted political crackdowns in the past. We are also joined by Valeria Hamel, an activist and law student at Mexico City, where students have launched a 48-hour strike, calling for the students to be returned alive. "These students were politically involved in their communities, so that makes us think this is political," Hamel says.