One day before Thomas Eric Duncan’s friends and family were to get out of quarantine, his fiancee said they remain healthy, but that she aches for the two nurses who contracted Ebola after caring for him.
Louise Troh issued a statement Sunday through her pastor that the family is grateful for their own health but is mourning Duncan, and saddened about the nurses at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
“My beloved fiance ... did not survive with us. ... Our hearts also go out to the two brave women who have been infected by this terrible disease as they were trying to help him,” she said.
Troh, 54, thanked everyone who showed her family kindness, singling out Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins. “These two men have cared about me as a person,” she said.
Later in the day, Jenkins told a news conference he worried about how Dallas would treat those who completed the public health monitoring — in particular, Troh’s 13-year-old son. “Let’s treat this young man like you would want your own son treated. ... They just need to be treated like fellow human beings,” he said.
The Texas Department of State Health Services officially announced on Monday that 43 people who had contact Duncan had been cleared from monitoring after reaching the end of the 21-day incubation period for the disease.
“They have no Ebola symptoms and are not at risk of developing Ebola,” a statement said.
Even as Jenkins spoke on Sunday, two men dressed in fake hazardous materials suits and gas masks tried to distract him. He called their behavior “hurtful” and said the community needed to support its “healthcare heroes.”
“Refusing to send your child to school or to shake a doctor’s hand who never had contact — that’s hurtful,” Jenkins said.
Troh, a nurse’s assistant at a nursing home, said she would not give interviews for now. “I do have a story to tell, and I look forward to telling it in my own way at the right time,” she said.
Her pastor, the Rev. George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, said that Troh was working on a book, but that she and her family wanted to “resume their life and fade into the woodwork as fast as possible.”
The nurses Troh referred to are Nina Pham, who is being treated at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., and Amber Vinson, who is at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.
Vinson had traveled to Ohio on Oct. 10 and returned to Dallas on Oct. 13. On Sunday, Ohio officials raised the number of people being monitored there to 153 and announced stricter travel rules to stop possible Ebola transmission. The deadly virus is transmitted by close contact with the bodily fluids of symptomatic individuals. It is not airborne.
Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is among the doctors treating Pham. “She’s doing fine,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “Her condition is fair. She is stable.”
Vinson’s family issued a statement in which it took issue with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statements that she violated protocol by traveling to Ohio. She had CDC clearance for her round-trip flight, the family said. “Suggestions that she ignored any of the physician and government-provided protocols ... are patently untrue and hurtful.”
Duncan arrived in Dallas from Liberia on Sept. 20 and went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Sept. 25, but was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics. He returned by ambulance Sept. 28 and died Oct. 8.
On Sunday, the chief executive of Texas Health Resources, owner of the hospital, published an apology in Dallas-area newspapers for sending Duncan home the first time.
“We examined him thoroughly and performed numerous tests, but the fact that Mr. Duncan had traveled to Africa was not communicated effectively among the care team, though it was in his medical chart,” wrote Barclay Berdan. “On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. For this, we are deeply sorry.”
One of the nation’s largest nurses’ unions responded on CBS’ “Face the Nation”: “An apology is always nice, but a corporate CEO apology doesn’t save lives,” said Jean Ross, co-president of Oakland-based National Nurses United. Last week, the union aired nurses’ anonymous complaints about how the hospital handled Duncan’s case.
Ross called for uniform safety standards that included a buddy system, hazardous material suits and respirator masks, saying a fragmented national medical care system has led to different safety standards at different hospitals.
“Unfortunately, in this country, we have a profit-driven healthcare system. And you cannot put a price on nurses and other healthcare workers’ lives,” Ross said. “The nurses overwhelmingly told us ... ‘We are not ready.’”
In Spain on Sunday, the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside Africa during the outbreak appeared to be making progress. A test showed no traces of Ebola in her blood, indicating that she may have beaten the virus. Another test will be conducted “in the coming hours,” Spain’s Ebola crisis committee said in a statement.
Teresa Romero, 44, a nurse’s assistant, had cared for two missionaries who contracted Ebola in West Africa. She was diagnosed Oct. 6 and is in isolation at Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital.
Her husband, Javier Limon, remains in quarantine. Limon previously appeared in a video pleading with Spanish authorities to save the couple’s dog, but it was euthanized.
The CDC says there has been no documented case of a dog — or a cat, for that matter — getting sick or transmitting the virus to humans. However, a small study indicated that dogs could carry the virus.
As for Pham’s spaniel, Bentley, Dallas officials said in a statement Sunday that his urine and feces would be collected for testing during his 21-day quarantine.
“We are hopeful that Bentley’s journey will contribute to what we know about Ebola and dogs, since they play such an important role in so many people’s lives,” said Dr. Cate McManus of Dallas Animal Services.
Hennessy-Fiske reported from Dallas and Pearce from Los Angeles. Times staff writer Connie Stewart in Los Angeles and special correspondent Lauren Frayer in Madrid contributed to this report.