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Profs: Malloy Could Shine In Ebola Preparations, But Risks Politicizing Public Health Scare

by | Oct 24, 2014 4:42pm
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Hugh McQuaid Photo

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s strict Ebola prevention protocols could resonate with voters but he and Democrats may walk a fine line between promoting responsible policy and politicizing a public health scare, two political science professors said Friday.

There have been no cases of Ebola in Connecticut and only one death from the virus in the United States. The chances of contracting Ebola are very low. Transfer of the virus requires direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, according to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.

However, the virus is on the minds of many people. The potential for an outbreak has received extensive media coverage and Friday brought news of a confirmed case of Ebola in nearby New York City.

On Friday, Malloy noted that under public health protocols he has enacted by executive action, the person diagnosed in New York would have already been under quarantine if he had been in Connecticut.

“I think we have the right program here in Connecticut. That’s why I acted three weeks ago to be ready for that. I think each one of these cases will allow certain lessons to be learned. I’m confident we’ve learned some of these lessons already,” he said.

Voters may agree with him. A poll released last year suggested that 67 percent of voters believe Malloy handles a crisis well. Those are high marks for the first-term Democrat who is seeking re-election in 11 days and has never reached a 50 percent approval rating in a public poll.

“One of the governor’s strong points has been his handling of crises. Blizzards, hurricanes and his handling of Newtown. This gives him opportunity to show that he is a good manager in terms of keeping the state ready to deal with potential and real crises,” Ronald Schurin, a political science professor at the University of Connecticut, said in an interview.

Scott McLean, a political science professor at Quinnipiac University, said the recent press conference in which Malloy announced the public health protocols gave voters a welcome reprieve from what has been a highly-negative campaign between Malloy and his Republican opponent, Tom Foley.

“The governor scores political points by not trying to score political points. He gets credit more easily, even from his opponents, by just doing his job and doing it for everyone in the state,” he said.

For the most part, Malloy has done that. Asked Friday whether he felt the issue would impact the election, the governor said he did not know.

“I’ve been asked to manage a lot of emergencies in the course of the four years I’ve been governor. This is one that I’ve stepped up,” Malloy said.

But he couldn’t resist the temptation to score at least one political point by reminding a reporter that Foley appeared to deride his executive action in an an interview.

“You know, Tom Foley laughed when I signed the executive order. He actually laughed, saying that the nearest case was 1,700 miles away — why was I doing this. In retrospect, I was right and he was wrong and people can reach whatever conclusions they want,” he said.

Hugh McQuaid Photo Asked about the interview Friday, Foley denied laughing at Malloy. He said he was responding to a question about Malloy declaring “a state of emergency” over Ebola. In the interview, which was recorded and uploaded to Youtube by the Democratic Party, a host asks Foley about Malloy declaring “a public health emergency.” Foley laughs and accuses Malloy of changing the subject.

However, on Friday Foley said he was supportive of the action’s Malloy has taken.

“I actually support what the governor did a few weeks ago, which was to prepare the public health organization we have in this state for a potential infection from Ebola. And I support the quarantine program,” he said.

Schurin said it has been a challenge for Malloy to highlight his leadership during difficult situations without appearing to politicize them. It’s the same with his handling of concerns about the virus.

“You walk a fine line between creating unwarranted fear and being responsible and prudent,” he said.

The state Democratic Party may have drifted close to that line earlier this week before turning back. The party emailed reporters, advising them of a scheduled Wednesday press conference at the state Capitol, where Democratic lawmakers and nurses would speak to the state’s preparation for Ebola.

“The issue has captivated the nation, and tomorrow at 11 a.m. on the North Steps of the Capitol, legislators and nurses statewide will give an update on our preparedness — and describe what could go wrong with the wrong leadership in charge,” the email read.

The party cancelled the press conference less than two hours before it was scheduled to occur without providing an explanation. Devon Puglia, a spokesman for the party, declined Friday to elaborate on the cancellation.

McLean called the press conference a “dumb” idea and Schurin said its cancellation was a “wise” one.

“There’s no need to play politics with something like this,” McLean said.

Malloy said he expected voters would draw their own conclusions on his handling of the issue.

“Listen, I take issues square-on. I think I was the first governor to act with executive order to declare a medical emergency in our state so that we would have the tools necessary. Then we very rapidly developed a quarantine program much stricter than the federal government, now the federal government is catching up with Connecticut,” he said.

Foley said he did not think voters would will have the state’s public health preparation in mind as they head to the polls on Nov. 4.

“I think people are going to vote on jobs and the economy and taxes and spending,” he said.

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Comments

(6) Archived Comments

posted by: One and Done | October 24, 2014  6:50pm

So we are down to lauding a failed governor for simply doing the job he is supposed to do?

Sorry, that is just pathetic.

posted by: StillRevolting | October 25, 2014  7:05am

I’m willing to give Malloy his due when it comes to effectively handling the emergencies we have had while he has been in office. On the other hand, he has politicized all of it. Don’t forget that Foley is more or less a project guy which means he can deal with stuff coming out of left field as well. I’m calling this one a wash. What isn’t a wash is one-party rule trashing my paycheck while failing to close the achievement and income gaps and proving that the Progressive agenda does nothing but cost the middle class the ability to grow or even maintain the little bit of comfort they have been able to achieve through their own hard work. That proof will be all the more glaring and our paychecks will cover far less four years from now if we re-elect Malloy.

posted by: Joebigjoe | October 25, 2014  9:15am

Talk about politicizing look no further than Obama. I think Malloy is doing the right thing and it happens to be at the right time for him politically.

More and more people are seeing that the CDC and Obama are full of it, and that has Americans on edge.

The article says ” Transfer of the virus requires direct contact with the bodily fluids of a sick person, according to the Centers for Disease Controls and Prevention.”

One reads that and assumes that you need to touch someone with Ebola. First of all a sneeze or some sweat or other fluids left behind where you have never touched the person will get it.

The other thing people realize is that the NYC doc and Dr Brantley followed protocols overseas that are stronger than the protocols here. NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE has said how they got Ebola. These are meticulous non sloppy highly trained infectious disease doctors.

The Obama administraion can’t shut the borders or flights because of his amnesty for illegals plans after the election so for him this is all a political calculation. All of you people that still support him should be ashamed that he would do that when we are worried about a virus we cant see and really dont know whether it will morph into something else, all for his agenda.

posted by: dano860 | October 25, 2014  8:44pm

I can’t understand how we made it through all the winters and storms in the years B.M. (Before Malloy) you naughty minded people!
Thanks for saving us Dannel, yes it’s political…never let a crisis go to waste!

posted by: Bethy | October 26, 2014  3:12pm

Bethy

Whatever, all Middle-Class and Working poor tax-payers (democrat, independent, republican) should believe the hard-working, sincere gentleman in this clip. He speaks the truth. Forget about your political status and think about your families, friends and neighbors lives. I’m supporting Dan Malloy 2014.

posted by: joemanc | October 27, 2014  9:33am

What I never understood was why Yale and then Malloy held press conferences on the same day to basically announce that the Yale person who had returned from Africa had a fever. Couldn’t they have waited until the test results came in? Talk about creating alarmism!