As news spreads about an Ebola-stricken nurse flying on a commercial flight, health officials, schools and the airline are doubling down on precautions.
Here’s what to know to get caught up on the latest on the Ebola outbreak:
Infected nurse goes to Emory for treatment
The guidelines were constantly changing and “there were no protocols” at Texas Health Presbyterian, the co-president of National Nurses United says. It’s here that Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan died, and nurse Nina Pham contracted the virus caring for him. Protective gear nurses initially wore left their necks exposed; they felt unsupported and unprepared, and they received no hands-on training, co-president Deborah Burger says. The hospital says compliance and employee safety is its top priority.
Like Nina Pham, Vinson had been caring for Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas before Duncan died from the virus last week. An official said Vinson was moved to Emory, which has successfully treated two Ebola patients and is still treating another health care worker who contracted the virus in West Africa.
Questions swirl over Vinson’s flight
Vinson boarded a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday, despite having a temperature of 99.5 Fahrenheit. She reported her fever to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention before getting on the plane, a federal official told CNN, but she wasn’t told to stay grounded.
CDC might ground Texas hospital workers
The CDC is now considering putting 76 health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas on the Transportation Security Administration’s do-not-board list, an official familiar with the situation said.
The official also said the CDC is considering lowering the fever threshold that would be considered a possible sign of Ebola. The current threshold is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.
The NBC freelance cameraman who’s recovering at the Nebraska Medical Center after contracting Ebola thanked everyone for their support in a Facebook post Monday. “There have been some dark and profoundly frightening moments in this ordeal,” he wrote. “I won’t ever know exactly when I slipped up and contracted the virus. I had been taking precautions but obviously they weren’t enough.”
In Texas, a few schools in the Belton Independent School District are closed Thursday because two students were on the same flight as Vinson from Cleveland to Dallas – Frontier Airlines Flight 1143, the superintendent said.
And in Ohio, two schools in the Solon School District in suburban Cleveland are closed Thursday because a staffer may have been on the same plane – but not the same flight – as Vinson.
Hospital employees can quarantine themselves
With two of its own nurses infected with Ebola, Texas Health Presbyterian said it will allow any concerned employee to have a hospital room.
“Texas Health Dallas is offering a room to any of our impacted employees who would like to stay here to avoid even the remote possibility of any potential exposure to family, friends and the broader public,” the hospital said in a statement.
WEST AFRICA DEVELOPMENTS
The death toll continues to soar
At least 8,997 people have contracted Ebola this year, and at least 4,493 of them have died, the World Health Organization said in a statement Wednesday.
The vast majority of cases and deaths are from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. “The situation in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone is deteriorating, with widespread and persistent transmission” of Ebola, WHO said.
Expect 5,000 to 10,000 new cases
The World Health Organization estimates that there will be 5,000 to 10,000 new Ebola cases weekly in West Africa by the first week of December. As of Tuesday, there’s been 8,914 cases and 4,447 deaths, but WHO says that total’s under-reported. The mortality rate’s climbed from 50% to 70%.
Chocolate companies join fight
Much of the production of the world’s largest chocolate companies comes from West Africa, and the companies are worried the virus will disrupt production. Nestlé and Mars say they have already responded to a call from the World Cocoa Foundation, a nonprofit that helps small cocoa farmers. The group plans to disclose Wednesday how much it has raised. Others in the group include Hershey, Godiva, Ghirardelli, General Mills and Mondelez International.
IN OTHER COUNTRIES
Spain: Infected nurse’s aide says she’ll be back
Teresa Romero Ramos, the nurse’s aide who contracted Ebola after treating a Spanish missionary, said she is willing to treat Ebola patients again once she has recovered, family spokeswoman Teresa Mesa said.
U.S. seeks use of Spanish bases
A U.N. worker being treated for Ebola in Germany has died. The Sudanese man had contracted Ebola while working in Liberia, the St. Georg clinic in Leipzig said.
CNN’s Elizabeth Cohen, Miriam Falco and Nic Robertson contributed to this report.