So with that background, imagine my surprise, after the second solid week of essentially nothing but fluff regarding the ongoing Ebola outbreak, when the NYTimes elected to burp out this latest coverage late on Friday afternoon:
The leaders of the United Nations and the World Health Organization expressed renewed alarm on Friday about Ebola’s tenacity in Africa and, in particular, its potential to ravage a fourth country, Mali, where they said hundreds of people had been exposed to an infected cleric who died last month.At a webcast news conference from the World Bank offices in Washington, the United Nations’ secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, and the W.H.O.’s director general, Dr. Margaret Chan, also appeared to reset their schedules for containing the Ebola virus, which has sickened at least 15,351 people and killed 5,459, according to a W.H.O. update posted earlier Friday.Mr. Ban said nothing about the goal of safely burying 70 percent of the dead and treating 70 percent of the sick by Dec. 1, and instead expressed hope that the outbreak could be contained by the middle of next year.Mr. Ban’s special envoy on the Ebola crisis, David Nabarro, also expressed doubts about achieving the Dec. 1 treatment goal in comments at the United Nations. “Confident? No,” he told reporters outside the Security Council, which was holding a meeting on the Ebola crisis.While the effort to halt the virus has made progress, with strong indications that the worst-case outcomes might be avoided, the tone of the remarks by Mr. Ban and Dr. Chan was cautious.“The international response is outpaced by this Ebola spread,” Mr. Ban said.Warning against any complacency, Dr. Chan added, “We must not forget: Ebola is a formidable enemy.”Most of the cases have been in the three most afflicted countries: Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.Yet the focus of the message of Mr. Ban and Dr. Chan was their concern about Mali, a vast country where the government does not have full control and where a United Nations peacekeeping force is deployed. At least six people in Mali have died of Ebola.A successful effort to halt Ebola infections in Mali last month, prompted by an infected 2-year-old from Guinea, has now been overshadowed by a second and far more serious source of infection, from an imam who also had come from Guinea. His symptoms had been misdiagnosed as a kidney problem after he traveled to Bamako, the capital, to seek treatment.Dr. Chan said nearly 500 people in Mali and Guinea had come into contact with the imam.Mr. Ban said that a team led by Dr. Chan was headed to Mali and that a new support center would be established there. Dr. Chan was blunt about the potential for a worsening situation in Mali.“We are scaling up our action,” she told reporters, adding, “We must smother this little fire, little smoke, before it gets out of control.”The W.H.O.’s own figures tell a worrying story about the progress in containing the virus. Only 26 percent of the necessary Ebola treatment centers were up and running this week, and barely a fraction of the smaller community care centers that health experts now say are more needed. Fewer than one-fourth of reported cases were isolated, with Sierra Leone reporting only 13 percent. At the Security Council meeting on Friday afternoon, it became clear that two months after the world promised to rally to help the affected countries of West Africa, there remained significant shortfalls, even as diplomats said international aid had made a difference.“It would be reckless to think that just because we hit some of our benchmarks, we have contained the virus’s deadly spread,” said Samantha Power, the United States ambassador.Thomas Mauget, an aid worker speaking by video link from Conakry, the capital of Guinea, raised the alarm about new hot spots emerging in the country, saying “international mobilization must be intensified.”The Security Council nudged the United Nations Ebola response mission to more quickly expand its operations.
*> The UN wishful thinking Dec. 1st 70% containment date has been pushed to the middle of next year.
IOW, they see no hope in hell that this thing is anywhere close to being controlled for months and months, at which time they'll probably conclude that mid-2015 was a pipe dream as well.
*> The number of exposures in Mali is no longer 327, it's now "over 500".
IOW, Ebola is officially off to the races in Mali (they're already isolating the third tier of infectees from the second Index Patient), and probably about to leap to where things were in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone last May, and it will make the jump in Mali in one great leap forward. The UN and NGOs are scrambling to pitch in, but it's probably far too late for that, and they don't have any reserve capacity to deal with this latest front. Look for the next report to tell you that they're now tracking "over 1000" exposures, and the latest confirmed case has exposed other people as well, as Ebola just keeps doubling apace ahead of all efforts to stop it in Mali, just like it did in the first three countries of outbreak. And Mali is more populous, medically under-served, and generally illiterate than any of them.
*> The prior "Ebola is slacking off, we're winning" happygas has been replaced by the cold hard realization that they are so far from screwed they can no longer see it receding into the distance.
They have nowhere near the number of centers they think they need, they cannot even isolate 25% of confirmed cases (which means they're isolating precisely 0% of unsuspected cases), but they're absolutely certain that they've succeeded in scaring people enough that they'll no longer report their infections nor arrive at Ebola Treatment Centers (AKA Quarantine Death Camps), which is the only way you have that many opening beds even as the disease spreads unrestrained.
In short, their entire efforts thus far, precisely like everything they've done prior, remain a complete, unmitigated, and unvarnished failure when they admit the truth to themselves, and look at their own available data.
In WWII, there was a brief period known as the "Phony War", when things seemed hopeful, as the conflict failed to catch fire after war was declared, mainly because the Germans took pause to consolidate their gains, and re-deploy their forces for the next round of attacks, mostly during the quiet winter months when campaigning wasn't so favorable anyways.
That's where this lull is now, especially when the press and government here have belatedly decided, for mostly partisan reasons, coupled with the sincere desire not to look like the clueless bunch of lackwits they've both demonstrated themselves to be on crisis after crisis, have co-operated (if not outright conspired) to underplay, downgrade, and simply ignore the common sense implications of this crisis, spike the stories about it, and refuse to cover or comment about it.
It's bad enough when you catch a government spokeshole lying.
But when the "journalists" covering them give them a stage wink as they do it, expecting either of them to tell you anything useful, let alone truthful, is a forlorn hope.
That isn't going to change on this story unless or until people start dropping in the streets in NYFC, if then.
You have from now until that time - which could be any amount of time at all - to get yourselves and your preparations together. You can plan ahead, or you can go shopping after Thanksgiving, and imagine everything is just fine, and this Ebola thing isn't coming to us anytime soon, even as we make plans for rotating thousands of troops into and out of the hot zone there, while the disease spreads across four countries unchecked.
Use your time wisely.