Summit Co. Public Health holds Ebola press briefing

AKRON, Ohio (WKBN) -The Summit Co. Public Health department held a press briefing Thursday morning to answer questions after it was confirmed that a woman who has Ebola visited the Akron area over the weekend.

At the briefing, authorities went over new quarantine guidelines for those who have had direct or indirect contact with Ebola patients. To read those guidelines, click here.

Amber Vinson, a nurse at a Dallas hospital who contracted Ebola after treating a man who also had the disease, visited the Akron area between Oct. 8 and 13, health officials have said.

Ohio Health Department officials said Wednesday that while the situation is serious, unless someone had direct contact with Vinson, they probably don’t need to worry.

At least eight people in northeast Ohio are now quarantined and being monitored because they had contact with Vinson. The Summit County Health Commissioner says the group includes six people in his county. Two are in Cuyahoga County, which includes Cleveland.

The nurse, 29-year old nurse visited family in the Akron area last weekend, then flew from Cleveland to Dallas Monday.

Vinson had treated the Liberian man who died of the disease in a Dallas hospital. Health officials previously said Vinson didn’t show symptoms in Ohio but now say they can’t rule out the possibility that her illness began Friday or Saturday. People infected with Ebola aren’t considered contagious until they have symptoms.

Vinson is now at a hospital in Atlanta getting treatment.

Officials continue to stress that the risk for Ebola is low in Ohio and that the state has no cases of the disease.

Thursday, Solon Middle School and Parkside Elementary, both in the Cleveland area, are closed.

The AP reports a middle school staff member possibly flew on the same plane as Vinson, but not on the same flight.

The school buildings are being disinfected, and the district says all of this is precautionary.

Frontier Airlines said six of its employees who shared Vinson’s Monday flight from Cleveland to Dallas are on paid leave for 21 days.
They’ll be monitored for Ebola symptoms. The airline says they’re being proactive… and that plane has been decontaminated.

Hazmat crews are cleaning Vinson’s apartment in Dallas

The workers having to worry about their own health too, and are covered from head to toe in protective gear.

And not long ago, First News caught up with Mahoning County Health Commissioner Pat Sweeney.

She said the board of health is working closely with others to make sure the public has the information they need on Ebola. Sweeney said it’s a challenge to calm people’s fears, but maintains that it is unlikely for someone who shared the flight with Amber Vinson or came in contact with her during her visit to Ohio to contract Ebola.

“The people who have become ill have been care givers of this gentleman who unfortunately died of the disease,” Sweeney said. “But he was so gravely ill at the time, and they were performing invasive procedures– drawing his blood, suctioning–things that absolutely are invasion and would spew virus, and that’s not what’s happening here with the airplane, or anybody that she came into contact with like that, over the weekend.”

If you or anyone you know were on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143 from Cleveland to Dallas-Fort Worth on Monday, you can call the CDC at 1-800-CDC INFO (1-800-232-4636).

In addition, the Ohio Department of Health has activated a 24-hour-a-day call center to answer questions about Ebola and Ohio’s response. The telephone number is 1-866-800-1404. Information about Ebola is also available on the ODH website at www.odh.ohio.gov and the CDC website at www.cdc.gov.

Finally, the Summit County Public Health division has an Ebola information hot line set up at 330-926-3939.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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