The Hot Zone

What ethical and political questions arose during the discussion between the scientists at USAMRIID?

section "Chain of Command" or "Garbage Bags"

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The process at USAMRIID is deliberate, with various meetings and discussions occurring before Jerry Jaax takes his team to the facility. While it is clear that the operation will be well-funded, Preston notes many bureaucratic obstacles, including the lengthy list of which organizations must be officially informed, including the Fairfax County Health Department, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Environmental Protective Agency, and the Assistant Secretary of Defense.

Preston also highlights the argument over which organization will coordinate which part of the operation. Joe McCormick and C.J. Peters are both anxious to coordinate the full operation, but not because they are concerned about the potential scope of the virus. Instead, their decision is based on mutual dislike and professional rivalry. The final decision for the operation to be split is not necessarily made for the sake of how to best contain the virus, but instead, to keep the peace between organizations. Preston points out that the leadership at USAMRIID is still unable to access the Reston facility without Dalgard’s permission. Because the facility is privately-owned, they have no legal authority, despite having confirmed the presence of a filovirus. Given these bureaucratic delays, the reader cannot help but wonder what would happen if the facility is actually infected with Ebola Zaire or a virus with a similar human kill rate.