PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) – Three Pennsylvanians who were on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas with a nurse who tested positive for Ebola are in Texas and have not been back home since the trip, Gov. Tom Corbett and other health officials said Friday.
The three people are not showing symptoms of Ebola and are not being quarantined, Corbett said.
Their risk of contracting Ebola is very low, the governor said.
Corbett said the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had interviewed the three people and they are free to travel unless they show symptoms, although state health officials said they are not allowed to travel on a commercial flight for a total of 21 days – the incubation period of the virus – after the Monday trip.
“Should they decide to return to Pennsylvania, we are going to look and see what we can do to get them back here safely into Pennsylvania so that we can continue to monitor them very closely,” Corbett said.
The three are being asked to self-monitor their symptoms, including taking their temperature two times a day, and state epidemiologists are staying in daily contact, state health officials said.
State officials are not disclosing personal information about them, other than saying they are from the northwestern Pennsylvania.
Corbett’s health secretary, Michael Wolf, said there are no other Pennsylvanians being monitored by the state.
His agency is assembling an inventory of hospital equipment that could be marshaled to respond in case of a suspected Ebola case in Pennsylvania, and it has given hospitals protocol for responding to a potential case of Ebola, as well as procedures for isolation and quarantine, he said.
Meanwhile, cable television is providing round the clock Ebola updates. It’s causing fear, and Allegheny County’s top public health expert says you shouldn’t let it scare you.
“I think it’s very easy to basically become sucked in to watching this over and over again, which does not help the situation in terms of people’s anxiety,” says Dr. Karen Hacker, the director of the Allegheny County Health Department.
Dr. Hacker says while the county is preparing for a potential case of Ebola, she’s not expecting one.
“We do believe that the risk remains very low for folks here in the county,” she said.
Meanwhile, at UPMC, the region’s top health provider, they say they’ve learned a lot from the mistakes made at a Dallas hospital.
“We have always had plans. Recent events in Dallas have given us the opportunity to re-examine our approaches and to make sure that we provide the best care to everybody, including our own health care workers,” said Dr. Donald Yealy, of UPMC.
And at Pittsburgh International, they say they’re ready if an Ebola patient arrives on a flight.
“We have the personnel, the equipment, and the procedures and protocol to be able to address them appropriately,” said Jim Gill, of the Allegheny County Airport Authority.
And the Health Department emphasizes, Ebola is not easy to get.
“It is not spread via the respiratory, airborne system. It is only spread via contact with bodily fluids,” said Dr. Hacker.
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey is urging his fellow politicians to turn down the rhetoric, and not fuel the fear.
“I think legislators have to be constructive,” said Sen. Casey. “That means proposing and supporting things that will protect people. And I know that’s hard in a political season.”
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(TM and © Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)