EBOLA VIRUS: DeKalb County threatened to cut off the sewer lines to Emory University in August, when Ebola patients, Dr. Kent Brantly and mission worker Nancy Writebol, arrived at the hospital for treatment, the New York Times reports:
Federal health officials have offered repeated assurances that most American hospitals can safely treat Ebola, but Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which had years of preparation for just such a crisis, found out how hard that is while it cared for three Ebola patients.
As doctors and nurses there worked to keep desperately ill patients alive in August, the county threatened to disconnect Emory from sewer lines if Ebola wastes went down the drain. The company that hauled medical trash to the incinerator refused to take anything used on an Ebola patient unless it was sterilized first. Couriers would not drive the patients’ blood samples a few blocks away for testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And pizza places would not deliver to staff members in any part of the hospital.
This comes as the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll found a majority of Americans are concerned about the deadly virus:
Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are concerned about an Ebola outbreak in the United States, and about the same amount say they want flight restrictions from the countries in West Africa where the disease has quickly spread.
A new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News shows 67 percent of people say they would support restricting entry to the United States from countries struggling with Ebola. Another 91 percent would like to see stricter screening procedures at U.S. airports in response to the disease’s spread.
Ebola has entered the political fray. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is testing an Internet ad blaming the GOP-led budget cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies for a lack of preparation in a potential pandemic, while protecting tax breaks for special interests like big oil:
This comes as the World Health Organization (WHO) warns that Ebola epidemic could lead to failed states, BBC News reports. WHO chief Margaret Chan ssaid the outbreak, which has killed about 4,000 people in West Africa, has led to a “crisis for international peace and security.” She warned that the cost of panic is “spreading faster than the virus,” BBC News reports.
UPDATE # 10/14/14 5:09 P.M.: Emory is backtracking on claims DeKalb County threatened to cut sewer lines over Ebola patients. Vincent Dollard, associate vice president of health science communication released the following statement to the Political Insider:
“Emory University Hospital has been treating patients with Ebola virus disease in its Serious Communicable Diseases Unit since August 2. During the early stages of this pioneering treatment of patients with Ebola virus disease in the United States, Emory established waste management protocols with local utilities and vendors, along with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Emory and DeKalb County did communicate about waste management. However, Emory was mistaken in saying that DeKalb County threatened to disconnect it from the sewer line.
“Emory used a large autoclave to sterilize medical waste so that it could be removed by its waste management vendor.
“Originally, couriers would not drive blood samples from Emory to CDC, but that was quickly resolved in discussions with CDC.
“And pizza delivery to the hospital was refused by at least one vendor early in the process.”