From the Cleveland Clinic, October 6, 2014:
Because CBS’s evening news broadcast was preempted by football, ABC and NBC were the only evening newscasts to air on Sunday. Both networks led with coverage of the Ebola case in Texas, including efforts to monitor anyone who may have come in contact with the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan. The two networks spent 11 minutes and 20 seconds on the story. Meanwhile, print coverage this morning focuses on health officials who sought to downplay fears of an outbreak of the disease in the US.
The Wall Street Journal (10/6, Portlock, Zibel, Subscription Publication) reports that health officials continued to downplay the chances if a widespread Ebola outbreak in the US and again rejected calls for a travel ban on countries impacted by the disease. The Christian Science Monitor (10/5, Knickerbocker) noted that amid mounting public concern about the disease health officials “have one basic message meant to address public fears.” The AP (10/6, Cass) reports that although there were “some initial missteps in Dallas, tried-and-true methods are underway: tracking everyone who came into contact with the infected man and isolating anyone who shows symptoms.”
The Washington Times (10/6, Klimas) reports the CDC Director Tom Frieden told CNN that the CDC “is working to address how the hospital in Dallas missed the diagnosis as well as how they fumbled disposing of infected medical waste.”
Politico (10/5, Levine) reported that since Duncan’s diagnosis, the CDC “is getting 800 calls a day from health care facilities and other sources with concerns that a sick individual might have Ebola symptoms, up from 50 calls daily before” Duncan was diagnosed. All of the calls “have been false alarms.” Frieden told a news briefing Sunday that “the high-alert attention — ‘making sure Ebola remains top of mind’ — is exactly what public health officials need to help contain spread of the virus here.”
On Friday, hospitals in the District of Columbia and Maryland admitted patients with symptoms of the virus. In addition to significant coverage in the major print dailies and wire services, the topic dominated the three network news broadcasts, receiving almost 19 minutes of coverage, compared with about eight minutes for the anti-ISIL effort.
The Washington Post (10/4) reports the unconfirmed case in Washington and the confirmed patient in Dallas “have spurred concerns about whether U.S. hospitals are as prepared to deal with the virus as federal officials insist they are.” The Post says Friday’s press conference featured Federal officials who “sought to reassure the public that the nation’s health-care system was well-quipped to treat the virus and stop it from spreading.” Assistant to the President Lisa Monaco said the US “has the most capable infrastructure and the best doctors in the world, bar one.” Monaco added, “The United States is prepared to deal with this crisis.”
The Hill (10/3, Ferris) reports the patients being monitored at District of Columbia and Maryland hospitals are unconfirmed, and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell said the Washington case “appeared to be ‘malarial’ related.”Politico (10/3, Levine) reports Howard University Hospital in Washington “is monitoring a patient who recently traveled to Nigeria for possible Ebola.” Hospital spokesperson Kerry-Ann Hamilton said, “In an abundance of caution, we have activated the appropriate infection-control protocols, including isolating the patient.”
On Friday, the CBS Evening News (10/3, story 4, 2:35, Pelley) reported that Monaco highlighted that “every Ebola outbreak over the past 40 years has been stopped.” In a separate segment, CBS Evening News (10/3, story 3, 0:25, Pelley) reported that Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institutes of Health said in a news briefing at the White House that he believes “the system that’s in place with our healthcare infrastructure would make it extraordinarily unlikely that we would have” an Ebola outbreak in the US.
The AP (10/4) reports the Administration “urged calm,” but acknowledged that fear exists among the public. Fauci said, “We need to get the information out because there is a lot of fear.” The AP says the “unusual high-level briefing at the White House…reflected the administration’s urgency in seeking to reassure the public that a wide-spread outbreak…was unlikely.”
Experts, Hospitals Assure US Health System Prepared For Ebola. The New York Times (10/6, Santora, Subscription Publication) reports that 911 dispatchers in New York City are questioning each caller describing symptoms relating to Ebola about whether they’ve traveled to West Africa within the last three weeks and, if so, whether or not they came into contact with someone with the virus. This protocol is “one of a series of measures the city has been using in recent months to prepare for the arrival of the virus,” measures that have been “stepped up since last week, when a man traveling from Liberia was told he had the disease in Dallas.” Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the CDC, “told reporters on Sunday that fear of the virus was not a bad thing” and that the “fear, he said, ensures a healthy respect for the virus that can be channeled into being ‘incredibly meticulous’ about infection control.”
Fox News (10/3) reports that according to Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, chief of communicable disease epidemiology & immunization of public health in Seattle and King County, Washington, “there are measures that are recommended for Ebola that are also part of routine hospital measures that they use for other diseases that are more common,” such as tuberculosis, hepatitis, measles. These “precautions, facilities, processes and procedures are already routinely used for other diseases and monitored in that context.” The Joint Commission, state governments, the Centers or Medicare & Medicaid Services, and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee of the CDC regulate these measures.
Survey: 60% Of Nurses Say Their Hospital Is Unprepared To Handle Ebola. While most infectious disease specialists and hospital managers have repeatedly assured the American public that the health system is prepared to handle Ebola, Reuters (10/3, Steenhuysen) reports that some nurses have expressed that they are ill-prepared to handle patients arriving in emergency departments infected with the virus. A survey conducted by National Nurses United found that 60% of the 400 nurses surveyed said their hospital is not ready to handle Ebola patients, while 80% said their hospital has not formalized any policies relating to the potential admission of patients infected with the virus.
Efforts To Contain Virus In Dallas Underway. The Wall Street Journal (10/4, Campoy, Nelson, Koppel, Subscription Publication) reported as Administration officials sought to reassure the public, Federal and Texas officials attempted to contain the case in Dallas. The state shortened the list of people being tracked as at risk of contracting Ebola from 100 to 50. Ten of those individuals are considered high risk, according to David Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services. None of those people “have any symptoms that would be consistent with Ebola at this time,” Lakey said.
The Washington Post (10/4, Berman) reported the cutting in half of the number of patients being tracked is the result of authorities “cast[ing] a wide net,” according to the CDC’s Beth Bell. Bell said, “We have a very low bar for deciding to follow patients…The reality is we have a low level of concern about the vast majority of these people that we’re following.”