Authorities in Dallas declared Monday that dozens of people coming off the Ebola watch list pose “zero risk” and pleaded for compassion as those people re-enter society, including children returning to school.
“They’ve been through an incredible ordeal, and they’re people who need our compassion, our respect and our love,” said Clay Jenkins, the top elected official in Dallas County.
Forty-three people passed through a three-week monitoring period without showing Ebola symptoms. Those people had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first man to die of Ebola in the United States, around the time he was put in isolation Sept. 28.
A 44th was coming off the list later Monday, and four more will be cleared in coming days, Jenkins said.
The initial group of 43 includes Duncan’s immediate family and eight children who will go back to school. Jenkins said that Louise Troh, Duncan’s fiancée, had expressed fear that the family would be seen as “disease-carriers or oddities.”
“There’s zero risk that any of those people that have been marked off the list have Ebola,” he said.
The five children cleared of Ebola will return to class Tuesday, a Dallas schools official said.
A larger group of contacts, about 120 people, are still being watched for symptoms in the Dallas area. That includes the health workers who treated Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas before he died Oct. 8. Two nurses in that group have tested positive for Ebola themselves.
Mayor Mike Rawlings of Dallas said Nov. 7 as a “magic date” when all contacts would be cleared of monitoring.
“We are breathing a little easier, but we are still holding our breath a fair amount until Nov. 7,” he said.