FOR THE WEEK OF OCT. 20, 2014
Federal response to Ebola grows as missteps spread concern
Catch up on fresh Ebola news. Summarize the latest developments.
Can you spot related coverage mentioning your city or state?
Look for a different government effort – local, state or federal – to protect people. What risk is its focus?
Ebola remains a high-interest topic, with extensive coverage across America as developments occur virtually every day. The latest news includes President Obama's selection of a longtime White House official, Ron Klains, to manage government responses to the deadly virus as public fears grows over its possible spread. The president last week cancelled two election-season trips to support fellow Democrats "as the administration concentrated on what is already turning into a political as well as a public health crisis," The New York Times says. His administration earlier ordered health screenings of air passengers from affected African nations.
Anxiety flows partly from missteps that led to the infection of two Dallas nurses after they cared for a traveler from Liberia. He died from Ebola on Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Nurses there describe a "confused and chaotic" response to patient Thomas Duncan, who was sent home when he first reported fever and said he had been with a Liberian relative claimed by the disease.
Concern spread when the second infected nurse flew to an Ohio wedding shower last week while running a mild fever – a trip OK'd by the federal Centers for Disease Control. The New York Times calls that approval "an incredible lapse in judgment." The agency acknowledges its error and now will rush a specialized team to oversee treatment at any U.S. hospital with an Ebola case. "We could have sent a more robust hospital infection-control team and been more hands-on with the [Dallas] hospital from Day 1", says CDC Director Thomas Frieden
Overseas, the news is scarier. The World Health Organization, part of the United Nations, says new cases in West Africa could reach 10,000 a week by December — 10 times the current rate. Some European and Mideastern airlines have suspended flights to Liberia, Sierra Leona and Guinea, making it harder for medial aid workers to come and go. "It is difficult to get people in and out," says Ian Rodgers of Save the Children in Washington, D.C.
Dallas nurses say: "There was no advance preparedness on what to do with the patient, there was no protocol, there was no system. . . . The nurses strongly feel unsupported, unprepared, lied to and deserted to handle the situation on their own." – Oct. 15 statement from nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital
Federal official says: "We know how to stop this." -- Sylvia Burwell, secretary of Health and Human Services
Blogger says: "That we would allow the disease to spread through simple carelessness feels like a betrayal." – Amy Davidson, newyorker.com
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