On Wednesday, news broke that a Dallas nurse who had tested positive for Ebola flew on a commercial airline that made a stop at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention immediately told the media via a conference call that neither the nurse, 29-year-old Amber Joy Vinson, nor anyone else who had contact with her should have been on the Frontier flight.
The CDC then announced that it was trying to reach passengers on the flight. But on Thursday, Gov. Rick Scott urged them to expand that search to all passengers traveling on that specific plane for the full 24 hours after Vinson had been aboard it.
Scott's office released a statement directed at the CDC so that Floridian passengers can be fully aware and updated on the situation, while reminding the CDC that it had failed to act quicker.
"Within 24 hours of Amber's flight with a low-grade fever, we know the plane made five additional stops," the statement reads. "Including one into and one out of our Fort Lauderdale Airport. The CDC has already admitted that they have been slow to respond to developing cases of Ebola, and we do not want to take any risk of Ebola coming to Florida. Their immediate action to contact all these passengers today is essential to explaining any potential health risks to themselves and their family. I want all Florida passengers to have as much information as possible directly from the CDC to ease any of their fears and understand any way they could have made contact with the disease."
According to reports, Frontier Airlines said Vinson's flight, which landed on Monday in Dallas-Fort Worth at 8:16 p.m., was parked overnight at the airport. The plane was then cleared by the CDC after being cleaned and returned to service on Tuesday. It was cleaned again when it arrived in Cleveland. But before being put out of commission, the plane was used an additional five times, including for a flight to Fort Lauderdale.
Vinson flew on the plane from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday, a day before she began showing symptoms for Ebola.
So far, there have been no cases of Ebola reported in Florida. And Scott says he'd like to keep it that way.
"Unfortunately, we have seen from the CDC's own admission that they have failed to get ahead of this disease's spread in America to date -- and we will do everything we can in Florida to get the CDC's full engagement to protect our Florida healthcare workers, our citizens and our visitors," he says in his statement.
"Yesterday, we also requested the CDC conduct healthcare worker training with all Florida hospitals by conference call," Scott added.
Scott scheduled a meeting Friday with Florida Department of Health officials to decide if any further notifications need to be made to the public or if any action needs to be taken.
For now, the panic levels are pretty strained, understandably.
But the CDC says that Ebola is transmitted only via contact through broken skin or the exchange of bodily fluids, including sweat, saliva, or vomit.
Ebola is not spread through the air or by water or food, the CDC says.
The Americans who have so far been diagnosed are mainly health-care workers who came in close contact with Ebola patients through infectious secretions while caring for them.
Moreover, Ebola cannot survive on sterile surfaces such as doorknobs, desktops, or elevator buttons unless those surfaces have been smeared with infected bodily fluids.
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