NPR for North Texas
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Three Richardson ISD Kids Pulled From School, Had Contact With Ebola Patient

Krystina Martinez
Dr. David Lakey is commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.

[We'll be updating this post throughout the day.] The Richardson school district has pulled three students from Wallace Elementary in northeast Dallas. In a letter sent to parents today, the district said the students had been in contact with the man being treated for Ebola at Presbyterian Hospital.

Richardson school district officials said the three siblings are healthy and showing no symptoms of the illness, but were taken out of school as a precaution. They'll be monitored for 21 days.

The district learned about the students from the Dallas County Health & Human Services Department, which has been working with the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention in its investigation of the Ebola case.

3:30 p.m.: Four family members of Ebola patient ordered to stay in their apartment

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins says a state order was issued to keep four family members of an Ebola patient in their Vickery Meadow apartment because they weren't complying with requests to remain in the home.

Jenkins said Thursday that the four "were noncompliant with the request to stay home." He did not specify where they went.

The four are quarantined to prevent the spread of disease. Thomas Eric Duncan was staying at the apartment before he was hospitalized with the Ebola virus. Health officials say he contracted the virus in his home country of Liberia before arriving in the U.S. on Sept. 20.

The residents of the apartment are not allowed to receive visitors. Officials say several days of food have been delivered to them.

Officials said they have spent a considerable amount of time looking for a cleaning company to disinfect the apartment where Duncan was visiting.

They have found a cleaning company, which is expected to clean the apartment soon.

They have a lot of work to do.

“Our understanding is there is a garbage bag of the mans’ clothes and belongings,” Jenkins said earlier Thursday afternoon.  “They had some household trash. They’ve got a bag of trash and they have mattresses pushed against the wall. I believe the household trash would consist of the sheets that he slept on bagged and coming into contact.

“Dr. Lakey [the state health commissioner] and I are not satisfied with that,” Jenkins added. “We want to ensure that they are getting regular food that the house is cleaned that they are in an appropriate living environment. There is no perfect response. … I think that people are doing their best here.”

2:27 p.m.: Student attendance down at Dallas ISD schools where students were in contact with Ebola patient

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says he wants to create a calm and safe environment for health officials to do their work as they help the family members of the Ebola patient who are under orders to stay in their northeast Dallas apartment. 

Citizens with questions should call 311. If they feel sick, they should call 911, Rawlings said.

Police are in the apartment complex where the Ebola patient was visiting to monitor the residence where his relatives are staying. Family members are under orders from the state health department to stay put so they can be monitored for Ebola symptoms.

County health officials have checked on the patient’s family and they were showing no symptoms as of Thursday.

Five students at four Dallas ISD schools may have come into contact with the Ebola patient. About 86 percent of students showed up for school today at the campuses – that’s down from a typical 95-96 percent rate, Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles said. Teacher attendance is normal. 

Miles says nurses are making two rounds at each of those schools to check on symptoms and to answer questions.

Additional custodians are on hand to do extra cleaning and apply disinfectant.

The five students who are at home in the district’s homebound program so they can continue their studies while they are out of school.

1:15 p.m. Ebola patient's relatives to be monitored for 21 days

Texas health officials have ordered four close family members of the Ebola patient in Dallas to stay in their home, and they've posted law enforcement outside to be sure.

Federal and Texas health officials are reaching out to about 100 people to determine if they have had contact with the Ebola patient hospitalized in Dallas.

But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden says they've only identified a handful of individuals so far who may really have been exposed and therefore will be monitored.

Texas state health commissioner David Lakey says the unusual step with the four relatives was so health officials could do the necessary monitoring, including checking them for fevers over the next 21 days.

12:50 p.m.: Liberia to prosecute man with Ebola

Liberian authorities say they plan to prosecute the man infected with Ebola who brought the disease to the United States, saying he lied on his airport health questionnaire.

With an Ebola crisis raging in West Africa, passengers leaving Liberia are being screened for fever and are asked if they have had contact with anyone infected.

On the questionnaire obtained by The Associated Press, Thomas Eric Duncan answered “no” to those questions.

Neighbors say Duncan had helped a sick pregnant woman who later died of the disease. Her illness at the time was believed to be pregnancy-related.

Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the board of directors of the Liberia Airport Authority, told reporters Thursday that Duncan will be prosecuted when he returns to Liberia.

12:45 p.m.: Dallas County is in charge

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has issued the following statement about who's in command of the Ebola investigation:

Dallas County has set up an emergency operations center and is acting as the lead agency for the Ebola investigation.

Dr. David Lakey, the state’s health commissioner, will be at the center to help advise the county. A team from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will also be at the center.

Key staff from the city of Dallas and the Dallas Independent School District will be embedded in the emergency operations center.

Doug Bass, Dallas County’s emergency management coordinator, will act as the incident commander and work closely with the CDC, Dallas County Health and Human Services, and others.

10::55 a.m.: About 80 people may have had contact with the Ebola patient

Health officials say they have reached out to about 80 people who may have had direct or indirect contact with the man infected with Ebola or someone close to him.

Dallas County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erikka Neroes said Thursday about 80 people are now part of the "contact investigation." Neroes said no one is showing symptoms.

She says the number includes 12 to 18 people who first came into contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, as well as others known to have secondhand contact.

Health officials have educated the people on the symptoms of Ebola and told them to notify health workers if they feel ill.

Health officials are focusing on containment to try to keep the virus from spreading. Duncan recently traveled from Liberia to Dallas.

Original post: State and Dallas County officials have ordered four family members of the man who’s been diagnosed with Ebola to stay home and not have any visitors.

While the family members don’t have symptoms at this time, the goal is to prevent the potential spread of disease, state health officials said in a statement. Health officials delivered the order to family on Wednesday night.

The family is to stay home until at least Oct. 19.

“We have tried and true protocols to protect the public and stop the spread of this disease,” said Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner. “This order gives us the ability to monitor the situation in the most meticulous way.”

Health officials had previously told the family to stay home, “but a strict public health order is needed to ensure compliance,” the state says.

The family members are to be available to provide blood samples, agree to testing and report symptoms to Dallas County health officials.

Also, the number of people who are being monitored for Ebola in Dallas has grown to 80, health officials say. 

Eighty people, including family and people who came in contact with the patient, are being monitored, Dallas County Health and Human Services spokeswoman Erikka Neroes told CNN Thursday.

For developments that happened on Wednesday, read our Wednesday Ebola blog.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.