A registered nurse demonstrates putting on personal protective equipment (PPE) during an Ebola educational session for healthcare workers in New York in 2014.
Photo by Mike Segar/Reuters

As Ebola reemerges in central Africa, Team Trump appears unprepared

The latest public-health news out of central Africa is clearly cause for concern.

The World Health Organization is planning to try using an experimental Ebola vaccine to fight an outbreak of the virus in a remote area of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

The global health agency says 39 people have been reported or confirmed infected with the virus, which kills between 20 percent and 90 percent of victims, depending on the strain and the care they get.

WHO said Monday that the country’s government had okayed the used of vaccines to try and stop the spread of the virus.

While everyone can hope that the World Health Organization’s ongoing efforts are successful, closer to home, there are questions about the Trump administration’s preparedness.

It was a week ago, today, for example, that the new Ebola outbreak was declared in Congo, and as the Washington Post  reported, on the exact same day, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, the top White House official responsible for leading the U.S. response in the event of a deadly pandemic, abruptly left his post.

The article added that there is currently no senior administration official “focused solely on global health security.” What’s more, the Post noted that Ziemer’s team has been broken up, and thanks to John Bolton’s reorganization plan, the admiral will not be replaced on the White House National Security Council.

Wait, this story gets just a little worse.

Team Trump also announced last week a “rescission” plan in which the White House no longer wants to spend congressionally approved expenditures that the president signed into law. While proposed cuts to the Children’s Health Insurance Program generated a lot of headlines – including one from me – Trump’s list of cuts also included asking Congress to scrap $252 million that had been put aside to deal with Ebola.

Four years ago, during an Ebola outbreak, Trump didn’t exactly respond responsibly. In fact, he mindlessly scrambled to blame Barack Obama for the threat. It was difficult to have confidence in his judgment at the time, and it’s no better now that he’s president.

Africa, Ebola and public health

As Ebola reemerges in central Africa, Team Trump appears unprepared