— Laurie Garrett (@Laurie_Garrett) November 2, 2014
Pulitzer-winning science writer Laurie Garrett is reporting and tweeting from Liberia this week – after a 28-hour flight. The Council on Foreign Relations senior fellow for global health writes that “in addition to regular luggage, it was necessary to pack extra supplies for this trip, including sufficient hand wipes, masks, gloves, and other such protective gear — enough to incur $150.00 in overweight baggage fees. The airport security check at JFK featured a 40-minute grilling from TSA, which included questions like: why I was going to the epidemic, whom I did I plan to see, and what I did I plan to do in Liberia.”
The purpose of Garrett’s trip, according to her Monday story, is “to see Ebola-ravaged Liberia, up close and personal.” An email she sent to family and friends on October 24th – Garrett was unhappy that it was forwarded to me – notes that she’ll be with a film crew:
So I know you don’t want to hear this, but I am heading to Liberia soon. There is always a chance something will prevent this trip – the airlines are cutting flights and my employer is very nervous. BUT in all probability I will be flying next week and returning mid-November, and then being in homebound quarantine for 21 days.
I will be with a film crew, and we are all going to be watching each others’ backs – one member of the team is an infectious diseases MD and we have protective gear. As you all know I’ve been in Ebola before – completely solo with zero gear, so I honestly do not think there is anything to worry about on the health front. I AM worried that our government will cancel all flights or somehow make it impossible for me to come home, and I’ll be stranded god-knows-where.
She wrote in her email that she plans to return to her Brooklyn home on November 15, and begin her quarantine. But… “I will cancel the whole trip if my government stipulates that I have to spend 21 days in some isolation lock-up other than my apartment.” (Obviously, that didn’t happen.)
“So here’s the deal – 21 days inside even my scenic apartment is enough to drive anybody stark raving mad. And it includes Thanksgiving! So I have a few favors to ask.” One is to pass along book, film, and TV show recommendations. She told her email recipients that “if it was on HBO, Showtime or the major networks, I probably saw it. If it was on PBS, Cinemax, FXX, Amazon Prime or any other pay-per-view or subscriber net I probably never saw it.”
She added: “I will be eager to hear your voices during that long self-imprisonment so please call – preferable on the land line.”
More from her email:
I am hoping that the paranoia in the City will have calmed down by the time I get back and it will be ok for me to do some things that have ZERO possibility of infecting others, such as riding my bike.
Regardless, I’m sure that by the time I come out of quarantine Dec. 5 I will be ready to PARTY.
Garrett was upset about her email being leaked to me, and didn’t answer questions about her trip. I’ve asked the Council on Foreign Relations press office about the journalist’s mission, and I’m waiting for a call back.
Finally, a fun fact from Garrett: Today is Turkey Day in Liberia.