President Barack Obama is on high alert about Ebola, and he wants nobody to think otherwise

Two weeks ago, when the first case was reported in the U.S., White House aides made a very conscious decision not to have Obama speak publicly about it. They figured any kind of presidential statement would have raised public panic, and left the microphone instead to Tom Frieden, the clinical public health doctor who runs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Now the White House is demonstrating enough concern that Obama’s entire schedule for the day — a day trip to New Jersey and Connecticut — was canceled so he could host a meeting in the Cabinet Room of agencies to talk about the government’s response to the outbreak. Obama appears to be stopping short of a full presidential appearance, keeping to a brief statement to reporters at the end of his afternoon meeting.

The hospital that treated Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan had to learn on the fly how to control the deadly virus, adding new layers of protective gear for workers in what became a losing battle to keep the contagion from spreading, a top official with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday.

“They kept adding more protective equipment as the patient [Duncan] deteriorated. They had masks first, then face shields, then the positive-pressure respirator. They added a second pair of gloves,” said Pierre Rollin, a CDC epidemiologist…

CDC Director Thomas Frieden expressed regret Tuesday that his agency had not done more to help the hospital control the infection. He said that, from now on, “Ebola response teams” will travel within hours to any hospital in the United States with a confirmed Ebola case. Already, one of those teams is in Texas and has put in place a site-manager system, requiring that someone monitor the use of personal protective equipment.

A statement from National Nurses United on the treatment of Dallas Ebola patient said that “nurses were asked to call the Infectious Disease Department” to learn the policies on how to treat Duncan.

The statement, which was played in its entirety on CNN on Wednesday morning, also reports that Ebola training at the hospital was “optional,” “nurses have been left to train each other,” and that nurses who interacted with Duncan simply continued treating other patients.

According to the statement, “there was no advanced preparedness on what to do with the patient. There was no protocol, there was no system. The nurses were asked to call the Infectious Disease Department. The Infectious Disease Department did not have clear policies to provide either.”

The union added that “advanced preparation that had been done by the hospital primarily consisted of e-mailing us about one optional lecture or seminar on Ebola.

“Essentially any hospital in the country can take care of Ebola. You don’t need a special hospital room to do it,” Dr. Tom Frieden said Oct. 2. “You do need a private room with a private bathroom. And most importantly, you need rigorous, meticulous training and materials to make sure that care is done safely so that caregivers aren’t at risk.”

Less than two weeks later, Frieden admitted that the government wasn’t aggressive enough in managing Ebola and containing the virus as it spread from an infected patient to a nurse at a Dallas hospital.

“We could’ve sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed,” he said Tuesday.

The Frontier Airlines jet that carried a Dallas healthcare worker diagnosed with Ebola made five additional flights after her trip before it was taken out of service, according to a flight-monitoring website.

Denver-based Frontier said in a statement that it grounded the plane immediately after the carrier was notified late Tuesday night by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the Ebola patient…

An official with the union that represents Frontier pilots said members were so concerned about possible exposure to the deadly virus that they began reaching out to doctors and other experts Wednesday for information about Ebola.

“It seems like it’s not that big of a risk, but it’s pretty scary,” said the union official, who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak for the group.

Working in a team of seven to 10 people, all employees of a contractor called Airway, they can get in and out of the smaller planes in 10 minutes, while the largest jumbo jets can take an hour, even with several crews. Wearing gloves and masks, they get through seven to 10 planes a day, with just a little down time, up to 30 minutes, in between.

He says it’s “not really” enough time to do a thorough job. (Airway did not respond to an interview request by publication time. Luke-Anthony was contacted through his local union.)…

Last week, 200 airline cabin cleaners refused to go to work at LaGuardia Airport, declaring they were not receiving enough protection. The Centers for Disease Control has issued guidelines for how cabin cleaners should be protected, but no federal agency explicitly regulates the procedure, and standards vary widely across airlines.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) today issued the following statement on the growing Ebola crisis…

“In a September 16 speech in Atlanta, President Obama said the ‘chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.’ Since that time, several Americans have been diagnosed with the virus and untold more potentially exposed to it. Today we learned that one individual who has contracted the virus flew to Ohio through the Cleveland airport in the last few days. A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider along with any other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow…

“Numerous committees – including the House Armed Services Committee and the Committees on Appropriations, Homeland Security, Energy & Commerce, and Transportation & Infrastructure – are actively assessing the administration’s response, and hearings have already begun. The Homeland Security Committee held a hearing in Dallas to examine the federal, state, and local response thus far. Tomorrow, the Energy & Commerce Committee will hear from the CDC and NIH to look into their response to the crisis. These oversight efforts will continue, and the House stands ready to act if it becomes clear legislation is needed to ensure the threat is countered aggressively and effectively.

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 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.”

The highly respected Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy (CIDRAP) at the University of Minnesota just advised the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) that “there is scientific and epidemiologic evidence that Ebola virus has the potential to be transmitted via infectious aerosol particles,” including exhaled breath.

CIDRAP is warning that surgical facemasks do not prevent transmission of Ebola, and healthcare professionals (HCP) must immediately be outfitted with full-hooded protective gear and powered air-purifying respirators…

Although CIDRAP acknowledges that they were “first skeptical that Ebola virus could be an aerosol-transmissible disease,” they are “now persuaded by a review of experimental and epidemiologic data that this might be an important feature of disease transmission, particularly in healthcare settings.”

Via Mother Jones:


“I shook hands with, hugged and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory, because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so,” he said.

Via the Weekly Standard.