Just hours after the first domestic case of Ebola resulted in a fatality, a second possible victim of the disease was hospitalized in Dallas. The first victim, Thomas Eric Duncan, died shortly after 8:00 A.M. Wednesday morning. Duncan, who was visiting from Liberia, was diagnosed with Ebola after arriving in Texas.
Following his death, Mayor Mike Rawlings offered condolences to Duncan’s family and also assured the city that officials were acting to “stop Ebola in its tracks.” This reassurance came in spite of the fact that Duncan was not hospitalized until two days after he originally sought help for the disease — and in spite of the fact that it took days after that for officials to decontaminate his apartment.
It was far from reassuring when Sgt. Michael Monnig of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Department was hospitalized on Wednesday afternoon, after showing some symptoms of Ebola. Monnig is reportedly not showing “all” the symptoms of the disease, but has been quarantined until it can be determined if that is, indeed, what he’s suffering from. The process could take up to 48 hours.
Why wasn’t Monnig monitored by the CDC?
What makes this development especially alarming is the fact that Monnig was not on the list of 48 people that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been monitoring for symptoms after possible exposure to Mr. Duncan. According to Dr. Matt Richardson of the Denton County Health Department, Monnig didn’t have direct contact with Duncan.
Without personal contact,
“public health officials collectively see no risk of Ebola to the general public regarding this person, his family or any facility at this time.”
However, Monnig was inside Duncan’s apartment before it was decontaminated, along with two county health officials. Their mission was to get the family to sign a quarantine order. None of the officials wore protective gear while inside the residence.
On Wednesday morning, Sgt. Monnig sought help from an urgent care facility in Frisco,Texas. After examining him, the medical staff called 911 and asked paramedics to take the patient to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. The subsequent statement by Frisco Fire Chief Mark Piland was also less than reassuring. While he repeated that the deputy was showing some, but not ‘all’, of the symptoms of Ebola, he also said that he was still trying to figure out how to decontaminate his paramedics and their gear. According to Piland:
We have calls in to the Centers for Disease Control. We’re also working with our public health officials here in Denton County. We’re going to get their recommendations on the proper decontamination procedures for the ambulances.
‘Going to get’? With Ebola having been a main headline out of Dallas for nearly two weeks, and with officials falling all over themselves to convince the public that there is little likelihood of catching it, why haven’t safety protocols been gotten?
Save your words, Mayor Rawlings. It’s action that produces trust — and Dallas is falling short.
Here is local coverage from WFAA 8: