Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, was placed in isolation on Thursday at Bellevue Hospital, six days after returning from his trip to the West African nation. Spencer became the fourth person diagnosed with the disease in the U.S. and the first to be diagnosed in a large city.
Three others, including Spencer’s fiancée, were quarantined after coming in contact with the doctor.
Three people who had close contact with Spencer, a physician for the humanitarian group Doctors Without Borders, were quarantined for observation – one of them, his fiancée, at the same hospital – but all were still healthy, officials said.
A woman named Morgan Dixon was identified on Spencer’s Facebook page as his fiancée.
Spencer’s diagnosis ignited fear that the virus would spread at an exponential rate given how many residents use public transportation. The night before Spencer came down with a 103 degree fever, he took the A and L trains, visited a Williamsburg, Brooklyn bowling ally, and took an Uber cab. But Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are urging residents not to be alarmed.
De Blasio said all city officials followed “clear and strong” protocols in their handling and treatment of him.
“There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed,” de Blasio said at a news conference at Bellevue. “Being on the same subway car or living near someone with Ebola does not in itself put someone at risk.”
Cuomo said that unlike in Dallas, where two hospital nurses treating an Ebola patient contracted the disease, New York officials had time to thoroughly prepare and drill for the possibility of a case emerging in the city.
“From a public health point of view, I feel confident that we’re doing everything that we should be doing, and we have the situation under control,” he said.
“There’s no reason for New Yorkers to panic or feel that they have anything to worry about on the subway system, etc.,” Cuomo said in an interview on CNN.
Infection from the subway or any place Spencer visited is slim, officials say.
He was not feeling sick and would not have been contagious before Thursday morning, city Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett said.
Owners of the bowling alley he visited said they had voluntarily closed it for the day as a precaution. The driver of the ride-sharing taxi Spencer took was not considered to be at risk, and officials insisted the three subway lines he rode before falling ill remained safe.
“We consider that it is extremely unlikely, the probability being close to nil, that there would be any problem related to his taking the subway system,” Bassett said.
But despite officials’ assurance that NYC is prepared, images of NYPD officers handling possibly contaminated gear are raising eyebrows.
From the Huffington Post:
Police working the scene around the Manhattan apartment of the doctor diagnosed with Ebola were wearing gloves and masks for their protection, but photos and videos show at least two officers dumping their gear and caution tape into a nearby street-corner trash can.
It’s unlikely the officers had been inside the apartment of the patient, Dr. Craig Spencer, as early reports from the scene say authorities who went in were wearing hazmat suits. The New York Post said police sealed off the entire block in front of the building, so the officers may have been on duty outside.
The casual nature of the disposal, however, has residents skeptical.
— chillbop (@Whatbugsmetoday) October 24, 2014
The largest outbreak of Ebola has killed nearly 5,000 in West Africa. The World Health Organization expects that number to triple. We’ll keep you updated with the latest.