School Closures, Capitol Hill Hearing Follow News of Second Ebola-Infected Nurse
As of Thursday, two nurses — Amber Joy Vinson, 29, and Nina Pham, 26 — who treated the first Ebola patient in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had tested positive for the virus, and the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was catching heat on Capitol Hill.
Schools in Ohio and Texas were shuttered after news broke that Vinson had come down with the disease after visiting Akron from Dallas last weekend. Passengers who flew Monday with Vinson on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas were linked to the closed schools, and people who came in contact with Vinson during her trip were also being monitored, according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden was grilled by members of Congress about the agency’s response to Duncan’s case (via The New York Times):
At the hearing on Capitol Hill, which placed the government’s halting response to the virus in the United States into the realm of politics, Representative Tim Murphy, Republican of Pennsylvania, opened with scathing criticism.
“Mistakes have been made,” he said. “Trust and credibility of the administration and government are waning. That trust must be restored.”
One sharp line of questioning from lawmakers dealt with travel. Mr. Duncan had flown to Dallas from Liberia, where Ebola has killed hundreds, and on Wednesday it was revealed that a second nurse infected at the Dallas hospital had traveled on a commercial flight from Cleveland to Dallas the day before she showed symptoms of the disease.
Representative Fred Upton, a Republican from Michigan, reiterated calls for a full travel ban from affected countries; Dr. Frieden and other public health officials have said such measures would be counterproductive.
Mr. Upton asked how the second nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, was able to board a commercial flight even after she reported having a fever.
“On this issue, there is no time to wait,” he said. “People are scared. We need all hands on deck. We need a strategy.”
The Washington Post reported Thursday that Pham, the first nurse to show symptoms of Ebola, will be moved to a National Institutes of Health facility with a biocontainment unit in Bethesda, Md. Vinson was moved Wednesday to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. An Associated Press report detailed both nurses’ contact with Duncan, who died Oct. 8 in Dallas.
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