UPDATE: Kent State has just released an updated statement saying that Amber Vinson “is related to three Kent State employees.” The statement does not say whether Vinson had contact with the family members or whether they were on campus after having contact with her (though it is worth noting what they didn’t say). “It’s important to note that the patient was not on the Kent State campus,” said Kent State President Beverly Warren. “She stayed with her family at their home in Summit County and did not step foot on our campus.”
During a press conference in Cleveland to discuss the Ebola-infected nurse who traveled on Frontier Airlines to Cleveland, Toinette Parrilla, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, said her office initially received incorrect information about when exactly the nurse was in the area. Parrilla said Amber Joy Vinson “arrived in Cleveland on the 8th. She departed from Cleveland on the 13th.” It was originally reported that Vinson, who has since tested positive for the Ebola virus, arrived on Friday the 10th.
However, Dr. Margo Erme from the Summit County Public Health said in an Akron press conference later in the afternoon that they’re not sure about the timeline. “We have gotten conflicting dates too, so we are actually looking at getting the manifest from the airline to actually confirm that because we have actually heard both.” She said her department is in the process of interviewing family members in Tallmadge, where they believe Vinson spent time. According to Erme, Vinson was “quite ill” when she went to the hospital and may be having trouble remembering details about her movements before she began to exhibit symptoms.
“The health care worker is still in Dallas,” Erme said, “we cannot speak to her.” She added, “We look at family that has gone down to Dallas as well.” She did not elaborate about movements of family members who may have had contact with Vinson except to say that “We have one person that self-quarantined yesterday when the family had gotten information that their family member had developed symptoms.” Erme said the quarantine is voluntary and added, “Right now there is no risk to the public.”
“We’re still working to be sure we understand the whole timeline,” said Mary Diorio from the Ohio Department of Health.
Dr. Erme also noted that Summit County did not learn about the new infection until 10 a.m. — four hours after Cleveland authorities were notified.
Mary Diorio from the Ohio Department of Health said she was notified by the CDC earlier today and then contacted Summit County.
Vinson was visiting her mother and her mother’s fiance in the Akron area in anticipation of her mother’s wedding. Rumors were circulating on social media about whether Vinson, A Kent State graduate, visited the university campus. Dr. Erme said Vinson had not been on campus but could not confirm that other families had not. Asked if Vinson had family members who worked at Kent State, Erme said, “We do not have any information that she visited Kent State, however we are waiting for information from Texas” about family members she had been in contact with. As a result, the university is taking precautions. “Out of an abundance of caution, we’re asking the patient’s family members to remain off campus for the next 21 days and self-monitor per CDC protocol,” said Dr. Angela DeJulius, director of University Health Services at Kent State.
At the Cleveland press conference Toinette Parrilla encouraged the public to remain calm. “If you do not have direct contact [with blood or bodily fluids] you are not at risk. Bodily fluids could include saliva, sweat, and semen, she said. In addition to the plane, the jetway, the hold area, and the restrooms in Concourse A are being cleaned. “We don’t know what she touched,” Parrilla said.
Cleveland Assistant Director of Public Safety, Ed Eckart, said the city is using a “surveillance traffic tool” that will be attached to every 9/11 call. Dispatchers will ask about potential Ebola symptoms and whether callers may have been exposed to the Ebola virus so that first responders can be notified. Eckart said this process would not slow down response times.
Ricky Smith, Director of Port Control said the airport is not introducing new workplace emergency response efforts at this time. “At this point we have no reason to believe those facilities are infected,” he said. “Our custodial service workers are equipped with gloves and a uniform” to protect themselves from infectious diseases.
Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson said, “We’re on top of it and moving in a systematic way.”
Newsnet5 is reporting that some employees and passengers at Cleveland Airport are wearing surgical masks today as a precaution and gate agents at Frontier Airlines are wearing protective gloves.