The Slatest

Updates on Ebola Outbreak: Obama Holds Emergency Ebola Meeting in Situation Room

CDC director Tom Frieden.

Brendan Smialowski/AFP/Getty

Slate will post running news updates about the ongoing Ebola story below. For other Slate coverage of Ebola, click here.

Update, 9:00 p.m.: President Obama held an emergency meeting with top health officials in the situation room on Wednesday as part of an effort to better coordinate the country’s Ebola response. Here’s a brief roundup of what transpired:

ABC News: “The United States must monitor Ebola in a ‘much more aggressive way,’ President Obama said today, also noting that he has directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to send a rapid response team – which he described as a medical ’SWAT team’ – within 24 hours when someone is diagnosed… Even though the dangers of contracting Ebola remains extremely low in the general public, Obama said ‘we are taking this very seriously at the highest levels of government.’”

Washington Post: “Obama said he had been in close contact with nurses at Emory University hospital who cared for two American Ebola patients. ‘I shook hands with, hugged and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory, because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so,’ he said.”

Update, 5:35 p.m.: Staff at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital didn’t begin wearing hazmat suits while treating Thomas Eric Duncan until two days after he was isolated, the Dallas Morning News says—despite Duncan’s high fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and account of having recently been in Liberia.

More than 70 workers were exposed to him before he died, but hospital officials have not indicated how many treated him in the initial few days.

Hospital officials have likewise not responded to repeated requests for comment about what types of protective gear was used the first few days, and why officials felt a need to change the gear being used on Sept. 30.

Correction, October 15, 5:55 p.m.: An earlier headline on this post stated that Texas Presbyterian staff “waited” to wear hazmat suits until two days after Thomas Eric Duncan was admitted, but it’s not clear if such suits were on hand at the hospital during that time.

Original post, 4:59 p.m.: A nephew of Dallas Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan has written an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News which, in addition to sharply criticizing Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas’s handling of his uncle’s case, disputes the widely reported assertion that Duncan came into close contact in Liberia with a pregnant woman who later died of the disease:

Eric lived in a careful manner, as he understood the dangers of living in Liberia amid this outbreak. He limited guests in his home, he did not share drinking cups or eating utensils.

And while the stories of my uncle helping a pregnant woman with Ebola are courageous, Thomas Eric personally told me that never happened. Like hundreds of thousands of West Africans, carefully avoiding Ebola was part of my uncle’s daily life.

Weeks, echoing earlier reports, writes that Duncan had a 103-degree fever and told doctors he’d recently been in Liberia when he was first seen at—and sent home from—Texas Presbyterian. He says furthermore that hospital officials delayed unnecessarily in having Duncan tested for Ebola, and in trying to acquire experimental drugs for his treatment, even after he was isolated. Most upsettlingly, he alleges that Duncan’s family learned about his death from media reports rather than from doctors. Read the whole piece here.