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2nd Dallas Nurse With Ebola Arrives In Atlanta For Treatment

Decontamination workers start on an apartment in The Village complex near Skillman Ave. in Dallas.

[For Thursday's Ebola developments, click here.] The second Dallas nurse who has Ebola arrived in Atlanta Wednesday evening. Television footage showed Amber Joy Vinson leaving a plane and boarding an ambulance. 

A police motorcade escorted Vinson to Emory University Hospital, where she will undergo treatment. Emory is specially equipped to treat Ebola and has a successful track record taking care of Ebola patients. 

"The patient will be treated in the same isolation unit at Emory University Hospital in which three patients have already been treated," Emory said in a statement. "The first two patients were discharged in late August and a third patient is still being treated."

Emory has a specially built isolation unit set up in collaboration with the CDC to treat patients -- one of only four types of facilities in the U.S. It is separate from other patient areas. "Emory University Hospital physicians, nurses and staff are highly trained in the specific and unique protocols and procedures necessary to treat and care for this type of patient," the hospital says.

Meanwhile, a health official says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cleared Vinson to fly from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday.

Vinson spoke with the CDC official responsible for monitoring her health before she boarded the flight Monday, CDC spokesman David Daigle said.

Daigle says the 29-year-old Vinson reported her temperature was below 100.4 degrees and she had no symptoms. Ebola sufferers aren't contagious until they show symptoms.

The official said she could board Frontier Airlines Flight 1143.

Vinson is the second Dallas nurse to become infected after treating a Liberian man who died of Ebola last week.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden says Vinson traveled to Ohio at the weekend before she knew that her colleagues had been diagnosed with Ebola.

Frieden is among various officials expected to offer testimony Thursday at a Congressional hearing. Testimony will also include a Texas Health Resources official -- the hospital acknowledges "we made mistakes" when it comes to the way it treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient treated at Presbyterian. He died last week. Read the prepared remarks by Dr. Daniel Varga -- learn more about that here.

9:15 p.m.: Dallas County considers declaring a state of emergency

Dallas County Commissioners have scheduled an emergency meeting at 2 p.m. Thursday, during which they’ll consider whether to declare a state of disaster for the county.

The state of disaster would last no longer than seven days.

A draft of the proclamation states that Dallas County “has the potential to suffer widespread and severe damage, injury, loss or threat of life resulting from the Ebola virus.”  The proclamation also states that “extraordinary measures must be taken to alleviate the suffering of people and to protect and rehabilitate property.” 

7:45 p.m.: Obama vows his administration will respond in a "much more aggressive way" on Ebola

President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday that his administration would respond in a "much more aggressive way" to cases of Ebola in the United States.

Obama also warned that in an age of frequent travel the disease could spread globally if the world doesn't respond to the "raging epidemic in West Africa."

In his most urgent comments on the spread of the disease, Obama also sought to ease growing anxiety and fears in the U.S. in the aftermath of a second nurse being diagnosed with Ebola after treating a patient at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to step up its response to new cases.

"We want a rapid response team, a SWAT team essentially, from the CDC to be on the ground as quickly as possible, hopefully within 24 hours, so that they are taking the local hospital step by step though what needs to be done," he said.

Underscoring Obama's stepped-up attention to the disease, the White House announced Obama was cancelling his travel Thursday to Rhode Island and New York to remain at the White House to monitor the government's Ebola response.

8:12 p.m.: Texas Health Presbyterian said it transferred Vinson to Atlanta "in the best interests of the patient"

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital released a statement this evening regarding Amber Joy Vinson being transported to Atlanta for medical treatment.

"Following consultations with health officials and Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Ga., Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has transferred for treatment there our second coworker being treated for Ebola," Presbyterian said. "That decision was made in consultation with, and in the best interests of, the patient. We remain sensitive to the demands being placed on our caregivers, who are working intensely to provide quality care to all patients, and we will provide new information as decisions are made."

5:30 p.m.: City sets up a fund to help pets affected by emergencies

The city of Dallas has announced it has partnered with Dallas Companion Animal Project to establish a fund to help pets displaced or affected by emergency events like natural disasters or possible future Ebola cases.

This comes after an outpouring of support for Bentley, Ebola patient Nina Pham’s one-year-old dog. He was removed from her apartment Monday and is now being monitored.

To donate to the fund, visit and click on “Donate.” Choose the Dallas PETS fund.  

4:42 p.m.: As Vinson travels to Atlanta for treatment, decontamination underway in her apartment

Amber Joy Vinson has boarded a private jet at Dallas Love Field. She'll be transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta for treatment.

Meanwhile, Dallas spokeswoman Sana Syed says decontamination of Vinson’s apartment continues. 

The Associated Press also reports Vinson inserted catheters, drew blood, and dealt with Thomas Eric Duncan's bodily fluids before he died last week. That’s according to medical records Duncan provided the AP.

2:56 p.m.: Two nurses infected with Ebola treated Thomas Eric Duncan during his first few days at the hospital

Federal health officials continue to investigate why two nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas contracted Ebola. They don’t have clear answers yet.

But they do know that the two nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Joy Vinson, treated the first Ebola patient during the first few days of his hospital stay – a time when he was vomiting and had diarrhea. The deadly virus spreads through bodily fluids. 

“Our investigations increasingly suggest that the first several days before the patient was diagnosed appeared to be the highest risk period – [September] 28, 29 and 30,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC continues to monitor the 75 hospital workers who helped treat Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted Ebola in Liberia before visiting relatives in Dallas. Duncan died at Presbyterian last week. None of those other workers are showing symptoms as of midday Wednesday.

Health officials also have identified three people who had been in contact with Vinson. They previously identified one person in contact with Pham.

In addition, health officials continue to monitor the 48 individuals who came into contact with Duncan before he was hospitalized Sept. 28. Those people haven't shown any symptoms as of midday Wednesday. Their 21-day monitoring period ends Sunday, and officials said earlier that they think the chances of those 48 people contracting Ebola are low.

CDC officials say that Vinson will be transported to Atlanta to Emory University Hospital, which has successfully treated Ebola patients. 

Like the other Presbyterian workers who treated Duncan, Vinson was undergoing self-monitoring. She traveled to Cleveland on Friday before it was known that the first nurse, Pham, was ill. Vinson returned to Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday. 

Vinson did not have symptoms in Ohio.

“Because at that point, she was in a group of individuals known to have had exposure to Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline,” Frieden said. 

Frieden said officials are working to ensure that none of the people being monitored travel via commercial airlines.

Here's what the CDC says about how people who are being monitored can and can't travel.People being monitored are to "notify the public health authority about their intended travel for 21 days after their last known potential Ebola virus exposure." These individuals should not travel by commercial airplane, ship, long-distance bus or train. Individuals not showing symptoms who want to travel locally via taxi or bus should discuss their plans with the local public health authority. 

2:21 p.m.: Presbyterian nurses tell national union there were no protocols in place 

National Nurses United held an Ebola conference call with reporters and other registered nurses. They have expressed concerns that nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian weren't properly prepared to treat Ebola patients.

Co-president Deborah Burger said nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian told her there were no protocols in place for them when they began treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.  

Along with previous reports of Duncan being left outside of the isolation unit for several hours when he was first hospitalized, Burger said the nurses were not given nor instructed on the proper protective equipment to wear.

“Nurses had to interact with Mr. Duncan with whatever protective equipment they had on when he had copious amounts of diarrhea and projectile vomiting,” she said.

She also says hospital officials allowed nurses to treat other patients after caring with Duncan.

Burger ultimately stated that the nurses were ill-prepared to protect themselves from direct contact with Duncan.

“There were no mandate for nurses to attend trainings, no advanced hands-on training for use of personal protective equipment, and even when trainings did occur, they were very limited and did not include having the nurse in training practicing the proper way to don and take off the appropriate personal equipment,” she said. 

Later, at 3 p.m. Central, Kent State University is expected to hold a press conference. Amber Joy Vinson, the second Presbyterian worker to contract Ebola, had been visiting Ohio over the weekend and is related to three Kent State employees. Kent State says Vinson wasn't showing symptoms of Ebola when she was in Ohio. Vinson was not on the Kent State campus. The university has asked Vinson's thee relatives to stay off campus for the next 21 days and conduct self-monitoring. 

 1:45 p.m.: Second Ebola nurse shouldn't have traveled on a commercial airplane, CDC says

Amber Joy Vinson, the second health care worker diagnosed with Ebola, should not have traveled on an airplane, federal health officials said earlier today.

The worker flew from North Texas to Cleveland on Friday and flew back to Dallas on Monday. Health officials are seeking to track down the individuals on that flight -- Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 on Monday night.  

But Dr. Tom Frieden, the head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, says the passengers on the flight likely weren’t exposed to Ebola.

Credit WKSU/Ohio
Amber Joy Vinson is the second Texas Health Presbyterian worker to contract the Ebola virus.

  “The fact that the patient … did not have a fever until the next day, did not have nausea and vomiting on the plane, suggests to us that the risk to anyone around that individual on the plane would be extremely low,” Frieden said.

The second health care worker with Ebola will be flown from Presbyterian to Atlanta to be treated at Emory University Hospital, Frieden said. Emory has successfully treated others with Ebola.  

The second health care worker has been identified as 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson -- her name has been confirmed by her college, her high school and from a Cleveland health official. 

NPR reports:"During an afternoon briefing, Toinette Parrilla, the director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, identified the woman as Amber Vinson. ... Parilla said Vinson was in Cleveland to visit her mother while preparing for a wedding."

Update, 11:33 a.m.: Ebola is "formidable foe," says Gov. Perry, who's returning to Texas from overseas 

Texas Gov. Rick Perry says the Ebola diagnosis of the second health care worker “reaffirms what a formidable foe this virus is.”

In a statement, Perry said he spoke today with White House officials and Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the Health and Human Services secretary.

Perry is also in daily contact with Dr. Brett Giroir, the head of the new state infectious disease task force, and Dr. David Lakey, the Texas health commissioner.

“This is the first time that our nation has had to deal with a threat such as this,” Perry said in a statement. “Everyone working on this challenge – from the medical professionals at the bedside to the public health officials addressing containment of the infection – is working to end the threat posed by this disease. These individuals are keeping the health and safety of Texans and the needs of the patients as their most critical tasks. Every relevant agency at the local, state and national levels is working to support these individuals.”

Perry's office says he's cutting short a business trip to Europe and will return Thursday because of the Ebola crisis in Texas. He's been in England with planned stops in Poland, Ukraine and Germany.

The decision to return came after a third person in Dallas was diagnosed with Ebola. Two health care workers who treated an infected Liberian man who died have now come down with the virus. Both women work at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

Meanwhile, The Associated Press reports that President Obama has canceled a trip to New Jersey and Connecticut to hold an Ebola briefing with his Cabinet.

Update, 11:12 a.m.: Hazmat officials decontaminate common areas at nurse's Dallas apartment 

Hazardous materials experts have decontaminated common areas of a Dallas complex where a second hospital worker infected with Ebola lives.

Officials say crews later Wednesday will clean the apartment of the woman now isolated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

Her name and job duties haven't been released but hospital authorities say she cared for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died Oct. 8.

Dallas spokeswoman SanaSyed says doors, hallways and railings at the second worker's complex have been cleaned. The process was completed just hours after the announcement early Wednesday of a second woman contracting Ebola.

Syed says complex residents are free to come and go as they wish.

Update, 10:14 a.m.: Second Ebola nurse flew from Dallas to Cleveland over the weekend

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second Dallas health care worker who tested positive Tuesday night for Ebola traveled by air on Monday, the day before she reported symptoms.

A CDC statement says: "Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13."

CDC is asking 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth on Monday, Oct. 13 to call 1-800-232-4636. The flight landed at 8:16 p.m. Central. 

Public health professionals will soon begin interviewing passengers about the flight, answering their questions, and arranging follow up. Individuals who are determined to be at any potential risk will be actively monitored, the CDC says. 

"The healthcare worker exhibited no signs or symptoms of illness while on Flight 1143, according to the crew," the statement said. "Frontier is working closely with CDC to identify and notify passengers who may have traveled on Flight 1143 on Oct. 13."

Frontier says it was notified by the CDC around 1 a.m. Mountain time Wednesday about the customer traveling on Frontier. The plane arrived from Cleveland in Dallas/Fort Worth Monday night. The plane remained overnight Monday at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport. It’s received a thorough cleaning, “which is consistent with CDC guidelines prior to returning to service the next da.” The plan was also cleaned again in Cleveland.

The patient had traveled from D/FW to Cleveland on Oct. 10, and flew back to Dallas on Monday night.

Update, 9:35 a.m.: Ebola in Dallas an "unprecedented crisis," Presbyterian official says

Earlier this morning, local government and healthcare officials held a press conference to update reporters on Ebola.

Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer with Texas Health Resources, called it an “unprecedented crisis.”

“Today’s development, while concerning and unfortunate, is continued evidence that our monitoring system is working,” Varga said.

Officials stress that the health care worker was in an isolation ward at Presbyterian 90 minutes after reporting her fever.

Meanwhile, the first health care worker with Ebola, Nina Pham, is improving. She's in good condition.

Health officials continue to monitor the 75 Presbyterian workers who had some sort of contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient with Ebola who died last week. Also, health officials continue to monitor the 48 people who might have been in contact with Duncan before he arrived at the hospital Sept. 28.

"The fight against Ebola is a two-front fight now," Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said this morning.

None of those 48 initial contacts are showing any symptoms, Jenkins said. Sunday marks the end of the 21-day monitoring period for those 48 contacts.

"The chance of those people getting the Ebola virus is extremely remote," Jenkins said.

Presbyterian has been criticized for how it's handled the Ebola situation. First,the hospital sent Duncan home after his first visit before he came back via ambulance on Sept. 28. Then, two of the hospital's health care workers were exposed to Ebola -- it's still not clear how the exposure happened.

Varga says Presbyterian is a hospital that "serves this community incredibly well."

"We’re a hospital that may have done some things different with the benefit of what we know today," Varga told reporters. "But make no mistake. No one wants to get this right more than our hospital, the first to diagnose and treat this insidious disease that’s now attacked two of our own. After several weeks of great emotion and great effort, our team’s spirit is tried and tested and the support of so many is really helping everyone to rise to continue to meet this challenge.”

Update, 8:55 a.m.: Listen to KERA's morning news Ebola update

Update, 8:45 a.m.: City workers distribute Ebola flyers to infected worker's neighborhood  

Information flyers about Ebola have been distributed to more than 330 apartments in the area where the second health care worker lives, Dallas police report. Officials have made contact with more than half of those apartments.

Dallas Fire-Rescue hazmat crews worked on decontaminating common areas earlier this morning. A state contractor will decontaminate the worker's apartment. 

Update, 7:25 a.m. No plans to place protective orders on hospital workers who treated Duncan

The second health care worker to contract Ebola in Dallas is a woman, authorities said at a 7 a.m. press conference.

She was among the 76 Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital workers who treated the first Ebola patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. The hospital workers are regularly checking their temperatures and being told to alert authorities if they show any symptoms.

There are no plans to place protective orders on the hospital workers, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said.

“We’ll set up a place where if people want to be away from their families, they can do so,” Jenkins said. “The system right now is working – they are taking their temperature regularly.”

The second health care worker reported a fever Tuesday and was in isolation at Presbyterian within 90 minutes of taking her temperature. She lives alone with no pets. 

Federal health officials have said a protocol breach led to the exposure of the first hospital worker, Nina Pham. Officials are studying whether workers used their protective gear appropriately.

The hospital said it still doesn’t know how she was exposed to the virus. But the hospital says it’s “looking at every element of our personal protective equipment.”

“I don’t think we have a systemic, institutional problem,” said Dr. Daniel Varga, chief clinical officer with Texas Health Resources.

The news of the second worker being infected is unfortunate, but it’s “continued evidence that our monitoring program is working,” Varga said.

"No one wants to get this right more than our hospital, the first to diagnose and treat this insidious disease that’s now attacked two of our own," Varga said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said he wants to “minimize rumors and maximize facts.”

“The only way we are going to beat this is person by person, moment by moment, detail by detail,” Rawlings said. “We have those protocols in place the city and county working closely with the CDC and the hospital. … It may get worse before it gets better but it will get better.”

The state health department says health officials have interviewed the latest patient to "identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored." 

Update, 6:27 a.m.: City officials report a reverse 911 call is in progress for a four-block radius of the apartment where the second health care worker with Ebola lives. A press conference is scheduled for 7 a.m. featuring various local officials. Police say they don't believe a dog is located in the health care worker's apartment. 

Listen to the reverse 911 phone call.

Update, 6:05 a.m.: Decontamination units have begun working on an apartment at The Village complex near Skillman Avenue and Village Bend in Dallas, police report. That's the home of a second health care worker who tested positive for Ebola on Tuesday night.

City workers have placed notices around the apartment complex, informing residents that a health care worker has tested positive for Ebola. All potential areas that the person touched are being cleaned. 

"While this may be concerning, there is no ongoing danger to your health," the notice says. "The virus does not spread through casual contact." 

Police officials report that Mayor Mike Rawlings has been at the scene this morning.

Update, 6:01 a.m.: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has released a statement: "The patient was isolated after an initial report of a fever and remains so now. Confirmation testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s laboratory is being done. The health care worker was being monitored for fever and symptoms. 

"The hospital and patient were notified of positive result. In addition, CDC has interviewed the patient to identify any contacts or potential exposures in the community.

"As we have said before, because of our ongoing investigation, it is not unexpected that there would be additional exposures. 

"An additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern, and the CDC has already taken active steps to minimize the risk to health care workers and the patient." 

Original post: The Texas Department of State Health Services made the announcement about the unidentified worker on its website early this morning.

Like nurse Nina Pham, this worker got the virus while caring for Duncan, the Liberian man who died of Ebola last week.The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. That's where Duncan was treated and where Pham is currently in good condition.

Here's more from the state health department:

Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored. The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus. The Texas Department of State Health Services also continues to monitor people who came into contact with the first two Ebola patients diagnosed in the state. The first was a man who had recently arrived in the U.S. from Liberia, where there is an ongoing Ebola outbreak. The second was another health care worker who provided care for the initial patient while he was in the hospital.

Dallas County has scheduled a 7 a.m. briefing on the second health worker to test positive for Ebola. County Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dr. Daniel Varga, the chief clinical officer at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, will speak.

The Associated Press also reported that the first patient diagnosed in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, was left in an open area of the Presbyterian emergency room for hours, and the nurses treating him worked for days without proper protective gear and faced constantly changing protocols, according to a statement released late Tuesday by the largest U.S. nurses' union.

Nurses were forced to use medical tape to secure openings in their flimsy garments, worried that their necks and heads were exposed as they cared for a patient with explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting, said Deborah Burger of National Nurses United.

Texas Health Presbyterian released a statement responding to concerns:
"Patient and employee safety is our greatest priority and we take compliance very seriously," the statement says. "We have numerous measures in place to provide a safe working environment, including mandatory annual training and a 24-7 hotline and other mechanisms that allow for anonymous reporting. Our nursing staff is committed to providing quality, compassionate care, as we have always known, and as the world has seen firsthand in recent days. We will continue to review and respond to any concerns raised by our nurses and all employees." 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ebola in Dallas: A Timeline

Here's a look at some of the main events over the past several weeks. Hover over the right-hand side of the timeline to advance it.

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.