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Remember when America was the land of the brave? When did we become the land of the scared? In fairness, it seems that our politicians, not ordinary Americans, are the most afraid — no, not of Ebola — of surviving their next election.

This brings us to Andrew Cuomo, Democratic governor of New York, and Chris Christie, Republican governor of New Jersey, acting like they know more about controlling the spread of Ebola than the Centers for Disease Control, the National Institutes of Health, and the United Nations Ebola Emergency Response Mission.

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They ordered a mandatory hospital quarantine of health care workers arriving in America from West Africa, even though over 99.99 percent of them are not sick and are unlikely to get sick from the virus.

Their actions reminded me of the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II. American politicians have a habit of acting first and regretting their human rights violations later.

Cuomo and Christie backed off and changed the mandatory quarantine from a hospital-based quarantine to a home-based one. But forcing a person to stay in his or her home for 21 days on the tiny chance they could get sick raises many constitutional questions. Guns kill 30,000 Americans each year, but we still allow Americans to purchase them anyway, and even walk around in public with them.

Federal officials have limited travelers from West Africa to five U.S. airports, including the John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports in New York and New Jersey, respectively. Federal policy requires that these travelers monitor their body temperature at home and report any symptoms. These travelers are also monitored by health care workers who visit their homes twice per day. This procedure has worked very well. To date, not a single American health care worker infected by the virus has infected another person.

It should be emphasized that a person cannot catch Ebola by being near someone who has it unless they have direct contact with the infected person's body fluids (vomit, stool, sweat and blood).

The flu kills 10,000 people every year in America because, unlike Ebola, the flu virus is capable of spreading through the air. If politicians really wanted to protect people from a deadly disease, they might want to quarantine people with the flu; that would actually save lives. Of course, the American people would not tolerate this level of restriction, so our politicians continue to ignore the real killers in our lives while going after the easy political targets.

Contending that we should restrict flights from West African nations when there are no direct flights from West Africa is senseless stupid-talk from politicians trying to promote themselves as doing something helpful. Not only are these measures meaningless but hurtful in fighting Ebola at it source (West Africa), which will ultimately have the most significant affect on limiting our exposure here at home.

"From the very start, it's been clear that the only logical way to stem the Ebola crisis is to contain and control the disease at its source," said Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Ebola Emergency Response Mission. "Anything that will dissuade foreign trained personnel from coming here to West Africa and joining us on the frontline to fight the fight would be very, very unfortunate," he said.

There are an estimated 10,000 people infected with Ebola in West Africa today, and unless we contain it there with tens of thousands of additional volunteers, according to health officials, 10,000 new cases can be expected per week.

Let's be smart, America, not scared. Sick people should be quarantined, not people who are well. Let's put our resources where they will do the most good. Listen to the health care professionals who have done a very good job of protecting more than 99.99 percent of Americans from a bad disease.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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