Sunday evening marked 21 days since over three dozen people, including family members and friends, came into contact with Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan. None of them have shown any symptoms during this isolation period, and the mandatory quarantine has been lifted.
This milestone marks a more positive outlook on the face of this deadly epidemic that has killed over 4,500 people worldwide, including Dallas index patient Duncan.
Initially, it seemed that Texas and federal health officials may have botched containment of the viral hemorrhagic fever, when, for reasons still unknown, the Liberian national was turned away after being seen at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after displaying symptoms on his first visit and isolation measures were not put in place after Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola. Since then, two nurses have tested positive and are being treated at different facilities.
Dallas officials celebrated the milestones and encouraged the Dallas community to accept those who are leaving their houses for the first time in a month.
“They are people who need our compassion our respect and our love,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said in news conference reported by The Washington Post. “Treat them the way you would want your own family treated if you were in their place and they were in yours.”
Duncan’s fiancee, Louise Troh; her 13-year old son, Timothy Wayne; Duncan’s nephew, Oliver Smallwood; and a friend of Smallwood’s, Jeffrey Cole, left the quarantined home Monday. These four people were living in the apartment when Duncan became ill in late September.
Currently, 200 people are being monitored after one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, took a round-trip flight via a commercial airline from Dallas to Cleveland, while possibly having symptoms. Her family claims that she notified the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and was told it was OK to fly.
There are also 25 nurses at the Dallas hospital who are now being monitored at the hospital, instead of at home, per a change in CDC guidelines.
S.C. Rhyne is a blogger and novelist in New York City. Follow the author on Twitter @ReporterandGirl, http://Facebook.com/TheReporterandTheGirl and visit her website at http://www.TheReporterandTheGirl.com