The bad news about a second health care worker in Dallas testing positive for Ebola just got worse. CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports that Amber Joy Vinson, another member of the health care team that treated Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, traveled by airplane on Oct. 13, the day before she first reported symptoms.
There were 132 passengers on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 on which Vinson flew from Cleveland to Dallas. The CDC is now reaching out to all passengers on the plane and is asking them to call 1 800-CDC INFO (1 800 232-4636).
After exhibiting symptoms on Tuesday and testing positive for the presence of the Ebola virus, Vinson was isolated within 90 minutes, according to officials.
CDC Director Thomas Frieden is quoted as saying:
[Vinson] should not have traveled on a commercial airline. The CDC guidance in this setting outlines the need for controlled movement. That can include a charter plane; that can include a car; but it does not include public transport. We will from this moment forward ensure that no other individual who is being monitored for exposure undergoes travel in any way other than controlled movement.
Frieden made a point of emphasizing that the remaining 75 health care workers who treated Duncan will not be allowed to fly. The CDC will work with local and state officials to accomplish this.
That may be too little, too late. While in Ohio, CBS notes, Vinson visited relatives who are employees at Kent State University. Although Vinson was not on campus, the university is asking her relatives who work there to stay off campus for the next 21 days out of an “abundance of caution.”
Now might be a good time for the Obama administration to revisit its decision not to ban flights from West Africa. The ease with which Amber Joy Vinson may have unwittingly spread the infection could be magnified many times over by allowing symptom-free passengers from the hot zone to fly into U.S. airports. There was never a valid reason given by the administration for its lackadaisical approach to this health crisis, but now there is an imperative to adopt a more sensible posture.
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