News events undermine CDC confidence

Thursday, October 16, 2014

We're told repeatedly that Americans don't have anything to fear from Ebola, but recent events haven't done anything to engender public confidence.

* Amber Vinson, the second Dallas nurse to contract Ebola after caring for a man who later died of the horrible disease, repeatedly called te Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to ask whether she should take a commercial flight. She had a 99.5 degree temperature; the CDC said it was OK to fly because the "high risk" group started at 100.4 degrees.

Because she took a flight, at last 100 airline passengers are now at risk of contracting Ebola.

* While the White House offered assurances, saying every hospital in the country has the capability of isolating a patient to prevent the spread of Ebola, an image from Dallas' Love Field undercut that argument.

While space-suited workers prepared to load the latest patient onto a private plane bound for Atlanda, an unidentified man walking with the group, carrying a clip board and dressed in shirt sleeves, handling a container and hazmat trash bag from one of the workers in full-protective gear and later boarding the flight.

Crews later spotted him with the stricken nurse as she was taken off the plane and transferred to Emory University Hospital.

The ambulance company said the man was most likely a member of the air crew.

* A demonstration by Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN medical contributor, showed how the disease might have been contracted by medical workers -- taking off the protective gear. Using chocolate syrup as a stand-in for blood, Gupta demonstrated just how difficult it was to remove the clothing without contaminating the skin of the wearer -- he wound up with drops of the brown liquid on his arm and neck, despite following procedures carefully.

* The U.S. administration has declined to restrict travel from West African countries suffering the Ebola outbreak, but lawmakers, including members of Nebraska's congressional delegation, have urged reconsideration of that ban.

Nebraskans tend to think we are isolated from world events like Ebola, but with worldwide air travel, that is no longer the case.

A couple of Ebola patients have been treated in Omaha, home to one of only a few isolation units qualified to care for such cases. We trust them to know how to keep the disease from spreading, and so far, at least, we have not been disappointed.

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