80 people being monitored in Dallas area for Ebola; Update: 100?

The net keeps getting cast wider and wider in the CDC effort to contain the nation’s first Ebola case in Dallas. Initially, only a handful of people had been under observation, comprising all those who had direct contact with the patient, now identified as Thomas Eric Duncan. Four are under quarantine orders, but the number of people under observation has grown to 80:

Health officials are monitoring not only the people the Dallas Ebola patient had contact with while he was contagious and not isolated, but also dozens of people that they subsequently contacted, Dallas County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erikka Neroes said Thursday.

Eighty people — the patient’s contacts, plus people with whom they had contact — are now being monitored for Ebola in the Dallas area, Neroes said. Earlier, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said the patient’s direct contacts numbered up to 20.

None has shown symptoms, and all are being given educational materials, Neroes said.

None of the 80 has been quarantined, Neroes said. However, Dallas County health officials have ordered four close relatives of the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, to stay home and not have any visitors until at least October 19.

CNN offered this video report before the observation numbers went up:

Meanwhile, Reuters has more of the story on Duncan. It turns out that he had direct contact with an Ebola patient in Liberia who died — four days before he got on the plane to the US. While CNN reported that Duncan volunteered that he’d been to Liberia when he first went to the hospital, it does not appear that he revealed his contact with the Ebola victim in Liberia:

The New York Times said that Duncan, in his mid-40s, helped transport a pregnant woman suffering from Ebola to a hospital in Liberia, where she was turned away for lack of space. Duncan helped bring the woman back to her family’s home and carried her into the house, where she later died, the newspaper reported.

Four days later Duncan left for the United States, the Times said, citing the woman’s parents and neighbors.

His return to the hospital was messier than first reported, and may be a problem for those in the apartment complex where he stayed:

Two days after he was sent home from a Dallas hospital, the man who is the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States was seen vomiting on the ground outside an apartment complex as he was bundled into an ambulance. …

“His whole family was screaming. He got outside and he was throwing up all over the place,” resident Mesud Osmanovic, 21, said on Wednesday, describing the chaotic scene before the man was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sunday where he is in serious condition.

Byron York points out that all of this shows just how wrong the Obama administration was when it declared it had the situation under control in air travel:

The chances of an Ebola outbreak in the United States are “extremely low,” Obama said. U.S. are working with officials in Africa “to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States.” And then this:

In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home. We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus. We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.

Obama added that in the unlikely event an Ebola case appeared in the United States, “we have world-class facilities and professionals ready to respond. And we have effective surveillance mechanisms in place.”

Now two weeks later, the president’s reassurances have turned out to be false. A Liberian infected with the virus, Thomas Eric Duncan, flew from Monrovia to Brussels to Virginia to Dallas. No screening at any airport stopped him, nor did any flight crews. The possibility that someone with Ebola reached American shores turned out not to be “unlikely” at all. And then, when Duncan arrived in Dallas, the doctors, nurses and medical staff at the hospital he entered were not prepared and in fact released him back into the Dallas population where, fully symptomatic, he had contact with lots of people. The system, in other words was not “able to deal with a possible case safely.”

True — but it does show that sending a large medical and military team to confront the problem at the source was a wise decision. We want Obama to fight a forward strategy against Islamist terror networks so that we defeat them “over there” rather than fight them here. That same principle applies in the fight against Ebola, for the same reason — it’s better to play offense at the source than defense at the target.

Update: Andrew Malcolm wonders whether this is Obama’s Katrina:

Obama will boast in his speech at Northwestern University’s prestigious Kellogg School of Management of reducing the unemployment rate from 10+% to 6.1% and creating 10 million new jobs.

But he’ll leave out the inconvenient facts that the unemployment rate’s down because so many simply gave up looking and most of the new jobs are part-time.

Worse, polls show two-out-of-three Americans believe the country is on the wrong track. They no longer believe their chief executive. And there’s been a hailstorm of crises both abroad (Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, ISIS, Iran) and at home, which combine in the impression of executive inattention, incompetence and lack of control.

Now comes Ebola, which has the real potential to be Obama’s Katrina.

President Bush didn’t cause the hurricane, just as Obama did not cause the worst outbreak yet of the deadly virus in West Africa. The problem was how Bush’s people mis-handled the aftermath, complicated by incompetent, corrupt local governments. …

Hopefully, Frieden proves right and, given the advanced state of the U.S. healthcare system, the upcoming U.S. Ebola outbreak is quickly smothered through isolation and treatment.

But if a fair number of carriers slip through our flimsy airport screening or if some are stricken among the 3,000 American military Obama dispatched to fight a microscopic enemy in Africa’s health wars, it will be interesting to see who Obama fingers to blame for his actions.

Presumably, Frieden’s resume is up-to-date.

Well, let’s hope it’s not a Katrina-level event here in the US. It’s already much worse than that in Africa.

Update: CNN now reports that the number of potential primary and secondary contacts has grown to 100:

Health officials are reaching out to as many as 100 people who may have had contact with the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S., a spokeswoman with the Texas Department of State Health Services said Thursday.

These are people who are still being questioned because they may have crossed paths with the patient either at the hospital, at his apartment complex or in the community.

“Out of an abundance of caution, we’re starting with this very wide net, including people who have had even brief encounters with the patient or the patient’s home,” spokeswoman Carrie Williams said. “The number will drop as we focus in on those whose contact may represent a potential risk of infection.”

The number of direct contacts who have been identified and are being monitored right now is “more than 12,” a federal official told CNN on Thursday.

CNN also updated their video report: