Traveling Ebola Hospital Workers 'Defies Common Sense,' Perry Says | KERA News

Traveling Ebola Hospital Workers 'Defies Common Sense,' Perry Says

Oct 17, 2014

[We will update this post throughout the day.] A cruise ship with a Dallas health care worker aboard who's being monitored for signs of Ebola did not receive clearance to dock in Cozumel, Mexico.

This comes a day after Belize refused to let the passenger leave the vessel.

The cruise line says the Carnival Magic ship left Cozumel waters on Friday afternoon with the goal of returning to its home port of Galveston on Sunday morning as originally scheduled.

The worker handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died last week at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days. 

The ship left Galveston last Sunday.

1:05 p.m.: Traveling Ebola workers "defies common sense," Perry says

Gov. Rick Perry has joined calls for an air travel ban from countries hit hardest by Ebola.

Perry said Friday morning that air travel is how Ebola crosses borders and that's how it arrived in Texas, so an air travel ban is the right policy.

Perry also says he's asked President Barack Obama to have Ebola cases fast-tracked to facilities better able to deal with the disease.

Congressional Republicans are urging the Obama administration to impose a travel ban on West African countries at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.

Perry said Friday that it “defies common sense” how health care workers who treated the first Ebola patient would travel.

“We must admit it along the way we have seen ample opportunities for improvement from the CDC all the way to the hospital,” Perry said during a press conference. “It’s indefensible that one of Mr. Duncan’s nurses was allowed to fly from Ohio to Dallas after she said she had a low-grade fever.”

Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who contracted Ebola in Liberia before traveling to Dallas, was treated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He died last week.

One of his nurses, Amber Joy Vinson, traveled on a plane in the past week, returning to Dallas on Monday. She had called health officials before boarding that flight to report she had a slight fever, but she was allowed to fly.

Vinson was the second Dallas nurse to become infected with Ebola. She reported a fever on Tuesday and was immediately placed in isolation. She has since been transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.

Another Presbyterian worker who handled a Duncan lab specimen is on a cruise ship. The White House says the State Department is working with an unidentified country to secure their transportation home.

12:55 p.m.: Amber Vinson told CDC she "felt funny" in Ohio

A CDC official says a Dallas nurse who has Ebola indicated she "felt funny" and spent extra time resting during a visit to Ohio in the days before she was diagnosed in Dallas.

Dr. Chris Braden says Amber Vinson didn't have typical symptoms of Ebola when she flew to Cleveland on Oct. 10 or when she visited family in Akron last weekend. But he says health officials can't rule out the possibility that her illness began last Saturday, or possibly earlier.

Officials say they're monitoring the health of 16 people in northeast Ohio who had contact with Vinson.

She had treated Thomas Eric Duncan, Liberian man in Dallas who died of Ebola. The timing of her symptoms is important because people infected with Ebola aren't considered contagious until they have symptoms.

10:45 a.m.: Nina Pham in fair condition at NIH in Maryland

Nina Pham, the first Dallas nurse infected with Ebola, is in fair condition and stable, officials at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland said Friday morning.

Pham is resting, eating, interacting with staff, and in good spirits, officials say.

Pham arrived at the NIH Thursday night. It’s unclear how long she will stay there.

“We fully intend to have this patient walk out of this hospital and we’ll do everything we possibly can to make that happen,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The NIH is one of just four specially equipped facilities in the country able to treat Ebola patients. The other Dallas nurse infected with Ebola, Amber Joy Vinson, is at another equipped facility, Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

“We have a group of highly-skilled, well-trained and experienced physicians, technicians and nurses” with the training and experience to take care of Ebola patients, Fauci said.

10:08 a.m.: Obama appoints Ebola czar to respond to Ebola crisis

President Barack Obama is naming Ron Klain, a former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden, as the point man on the U.S. government's response to the Ebola crisis.

Obama has been under pressure to name an Ebola "czar" to oversee health security in the U.S. and actions to help stem the outbreak in West Africa.

Klain has been out of government since leaving Biden's office during the Obama's first term. The White House said that Klain would report to national security adviser Susan Rice and to homeland security and counterterrorism adviser Lisa Monaco.

Klain, a lawyer, also served as chief of staff for Vice President Al Gore. He previously served under Attorney General Janet Reno in the Clinton administration.

7:32 a.m.: Dallas health care worker who handled lab specimens on a cruise ship

Obama administration officials say a Dallas health care worker who handled a lab specimen from an Ebola-infected man from Liberia who died of the disease is on a Caribbean cruise ship where she has self-quarantined and is being monitored for any signs of infection.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki says in a statement Friday that the woman has shown no signs of the disease and has been asymptomatic for 19 days.

The government is working to return the woman and her husband to the U.S. before the ship completes its cruise. The White House says the State Department is working with an unidentified country to secure their transportation home.

Psaki says that when the woman left the U.S. on the cruise ship health officials were requiring only self-monitoring.

In North Texas, local officials took a tougher approach toward monitoring dozens of health care workers who were exposed to the virus while treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the infected patient who later died. The health care workers were asked to sign legally binding documents agreeing not to go to public places or use public transportation.

Those who break the agreement could face undisclosed sanctions.

8:04 a.m. Nina Pham's dog, Bentley, is doing well

Wondering how Bentley, Nina Pham's dog, is doing? Here are some pictures from the city of Dallas spokeswoman. He is being monitored at Hensley Field and is being cared for by workers wearing protective gear. 

7:22 a.m. Amber Vinson's family releases a statement

Lawrence Vinson, the uncle of Amber Vinson, the second Dallas nurse infected with Ebola, released this statement through Kent State University: “Our family has been overwhelmed with support and love for Amber and our extended family over the last 72 hours, and we thank you for those prayers and well wishes. Amber is stable, and we are continuing to work with her doctors as her treatment progresses. Amber is a respected professional and has always had a strong passion for nursing. She followed all of the protocols necessary when treating a patient in Dallas, and right now, she’s trusting in her doctors and nurses as she is now the patient. To that end, we ask that the media respect Amber’s privacy and that of our family during this overwhelming experience. The time will come down the road for more further public involvement, but for now, your continued love and prayers helps greatly.”

Vinson was transported earlier this week to Atlanta to continue treatment at Emory University Hospital.

7:15 a.m.: Self-monitoring extended to people on additional flight Amber Vinson took

Self-monitoring was extended Thursday to people who took the same outbound flight as nurse Amber Vinson; it had been imposed earlier for passengers on the return trip. Another group being contacted: shoppers at the Akron bridal shop Vinson visited that Saturday.

Vinson and Nina Pham, the two nurses, have been transferred from Texas Health Presbyterian where they treated Duncan and became infected.

The chief clinical officer for Texas Health Resources, Dr. Daniel Varga, said the hospital was caught short when Duncan came to the institution "with non-specific symptoms."

"I think we all in the health-care community underestimated the challenge of diagnosis," he said on ABC's "Good Morning America" Friday.

He also said the two nurses who contracted the disease had followed standard hospital procedure. "We have no indication that Nina or Amber had any break in protocol. We were working with the best information we had," Varga said.

7:09 a.m. Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins talks with NPR about Ebola

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins discussed Ebola on NPR's "All Things Considered" Thursday afternoon. NPR's Melissa Block asked Jenkins why he didn't wear personal protective gear while visiting Thomas Eric Duncan's relatives. "I wanted them to see me as a person and an equal and I wanted to see them as a person and an equal," Jenkins said. "I had to convince them to leave their house and go to a place they'd never seen before and I wanted to treat them with the same compassion that I would want Louise to treat my family member or me if my family were going through this." Listen and read the interview here.

7:02 a.m.: Watch Nina Pham in emotional sendoff at Presbyterian 

On Thursday, Nina Pham departed Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital for the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. Before she left, her physician, Dr. Gary Weinstein, recorded a conversation with her. Pham asked Presbyterian to share the video. Watch it here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

Ebola in Dallas: A Timeline

Here's a look at some of the main Ebola events over the past several weeks. Hover over the right-hand side of the timeline to advance it.

Ebola: How The Virus Spread

Frontline has produced this look at how Ebola spread to the U.S.