Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins criticized the CDC hours after it was revealed that a second nurse who came into contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has tested positive for the deadly disease, and that the new patient flew on a commercial flight to Ohio before she was diagnosed.
Jenkins, the chief executive in Dallas County, said he is seeking an order to bar 75 hospital workers who may have come into contact with Duncan, who died of the disease last Wednesday, from taking mass transit. Early Wednesday officials said nurse Amber Joy Vinson tested positive for Ebola, becoming the second nurse who treated Duncan to be diagnosed with the disease that has killed more than 4,000 people in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.
“I’m not happy about the lack of direction on travel restrictions. If restrictions aren’t put in place immediately we’ll put them in place on a local level,” Jenkins told NBC News. “We can’t have people out on public conveyances, on airplanes.” Jenkins was careful to say that the government doesn’t believe the order will need to be enforced, calling those who treated Duncan “heroic health care professionals” who just need some guidance on travel.
CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden said Wednesday that Vinson should not have boarded a commercial jet after she was exposed to Ebola and developed a mild fever, but those instructions were apparently never communicated to the hospital staff who came into contact with Duncan. The other nurse, Nina Pham, 26, tested positive for Ebola on Sunday. She is being treated at Texas Health Presbyterian and was in good condition Wednesday, the hospital said.
Late Wednesday, the hospital announced it would offer rooms for any staff members who treated Duncan and wanted a place to stay away from their families. It also urged employee who had contact with Duncan to avoid "any activities that could potentially put others at risk."
— Phil Helsel and Kate Snow