By Chelsea Schilling and Jerome Corsi
America wants to know: Why in the world isn’t the Ebola clean-up crew in Dallas, Texas, wearing protective biohazard suits to prevent further spread of the deadly virus?
A photo posted online by Dallas/Fort Worth’s WFAA-TV News showed workers pressure washing the sidewalk where Thomas Duncan, a man who arrived from Liberia on Sept. 20 and was confirmed to have the Ebola virus, had vomited all over the ground outside The Ivy Apartments on Sept. 26. Hunter’s family members are reportedly quarantined in an apartment unit under armed guard after they attempted to violate orders to remain in their home.
The workers, who appeared to be allowing the potentially contaminated water wash down the storm drains, wore no protective gear – not even gloves.
Ebola may cause fever, bleeding, vomiting and diarrhea. Health officials say it spreads through contact with bodily fluids like blood or saliva.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, the “virus in body fluids (such as blood) can survive up to several days at room temperature.”
Univision also posted an image of the clean-up effort and the vehicles in the parking lot while the spraying took place:
NBC News cameraman Ashoka Mukpo, just diagnosed with Ebola in Liberia, described similar circumstances that may have led to the spread of the virus.
“At one point he was trying to help decontaminate a car,” his mother explained. “He had most of the protective gear on, but he thinks something might have splashed on his body at that point. That’s one possibility, but really, one doesn’t know fully.”
Americans took to Twitter to express their outrage at the Dallas scene. The following are some posted responses:
- “This Vomit from an Ebola Patient is being sprayed everywhere! Does it become diluted?”
- “How many does this now infect?”
- “Wow, not sure this is an approved method to effectively sanitize an area possibly exposed to #Ebola.”
- “Where the frack is their protective gear!?”
- “Um, call me crazy, but cleaning up Ebola vomit with pressure washer seems like a lousy idea”
- “Nice! This is how the gov’t protects us! No one is in charge nor do they have a clue!”
- “They are almost making it an aerosol with the high pressure water! Any bleach?”
- “Obama shipped 3,000 troops over to Africa to fight Ebola, but we can’t get a decent cleanup crew in Dallas?”
- “HAZ. MAT. SUITS”
- “This Ebola s–t is freaking me out! Have you seen the pics of the cleanup? No one is wearing protective gear!”
- “If there is one drop of blood or puke is on that sidewalk, THERE SHOULD BE HAZMAT SUITS. This isn’t a f—ing joke.”
- “Oh, there’s a 1 in a million chance that the puke on that sidewalk had Ebola? In that case… HAZ MAT SUITS.”
According to numerous reports, food supplies have been delivered to the quarantined individuals. However, there are no biohazard suits or protective gear worn in photos of worker interactions with the family.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said the confinement order was issued after the family defied a request to stay home until at least Oct. 19. A woman in the apartment, Louis Troh, said she’s tired of the quarantine and is demanding health officials sanitize her home, which still contains Duncan’s contaminated bedsheets and towels.
According to the New York Post, “A hazardous material crew arrived to decontaminate the apartment Thursday evening but didn’t have the required permits to clean and remove hazardous waste, city spokesman Richard Hill said. The crew, contacted by the county and state, was to return Friday to complete the job.”
NBC News confirmed that hazmat trucks have now pulled up outside the apartment – five days after Duncan was admitted to the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.
The CDC has 10 infectious disease experts on the ground in Dallas to assist Texas health officials in dealing with the first Ebola case in the United States, explained Dr. Beth Bell, director of the CDC’s National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, in a teleconference Friday.
“There is a possibility in Dallas that some of the people who have been in contact with the Ebola patient might develop the disease,” Bell said, stressing that Ebola is not transmitted through the air and that an Ebola patient is not able to transmit the disease to others until symptoms of the disease are manifest.
Dr. David Lakey, commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, explained that health officials are meeting twice daily with up to 50 people in Dallas who were in contact with Duncan. Each person is being monitored for fever and other symptoms of infection.
Judge Jenkins said the exposed individuals are being followed and monitored by law enforcement, and “there is a plan in place” to deal with any at-risk individuals that do not cooperate with the emergency plans.
“We are working hard to accelerate the testing and approval of an Ebola vaccine,” Bell explained. “Developing a successful vaccine is a high-priority for CDC but we want to make sure any vaccine CDC approves is fully tested and safe.”
Bell told members of the media that CDC has a “low bar” in selecting the 50 people in Dallas to be followed in the “contact tracing” scheduled to last 21 days.
“We are being extremely cautious and careful about the 50 people we are following, but we want to stress we are not overly concerned about most,” she added. ”
Bell also told teleconference attendees the CDC has been in touch with some 100 hospitals in the United States that have asked to be advised about testing procedures for suspected Ebola cases, noting that some 15 possible Ebola cases have been tested with all cases testing negative for Ebola, with the exception of the one patient currently in Ebola treatment in Dallas.
“We have people in the community we are following in contact tracing as well as anyone in the hospital emergency team on duty when the patient first came in last Friday for treatment,” Lakey said. “This totals about 50 people that had contact with the Ebola patient, but we are really concerned only about 10 of them.”
A reporter from Fox News asked what reassurance the CDC could give the American public that adequate procedures were in place to prevent Ebola-infected people from reaching the U.S. when Duncan reportedly lied on a travel questionnaire before leaving Liberia and, even after the disease was diagnosed in Dallas, health officials had problems getting the vomit cleaned at the Dallas apartment.
“We have controls and actions in place for people who travel internationally, and we have tried-and-true procedures in place here in the United States, including contact tracing, that we know are successful,” Bell insisted, not specifically addressing the fact that the procedures currently in place appear to have failed in the Dallas case.
Judge Jenkins said, “We lack some of the permits to get the apartment cleaned, and there is a haz-mat team at the apartment now, making sure the vomit and other biological residue are properly cleaned and removed. I want to see this family treated as my family would be treated in similar situations. I don’t like how the family has been treated so far. I was at the apartment last night, and the woman is sleeping in one room and the men in another in the apartment.”
He continued, “The family is under tremendous psychological stress right now. When I was there last night at about 10:30 p.m., the media turned on their lights as soon as I knocked on the door, and the family understandably felt very frightened. I’d like to see the family in a different setting.”