Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dallas County Judge Jenkins Not Ebola Risk: Health Officials

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins released letters from health experts Tuesday night that support his unprotected contact with four people under observation for Ebola.

Last week, Jenkins helped those people move from the Dallas apartment where patient Thomas Duncan was staying. He said he did so to show the community that the disease could not be contracted through contact with people who are not showing symptoms of the disease.

"The people who've been fighting it for the last 39 years are 100 percent sure there is no risk to me for riding in that car with that family and, therefore, no risk to you," he said.

Some Dallas officials are defending their performance in the Ebola battle. There are also questions about whether money and race lead to the missed diagnosis of Thomas Duncan.

A press release sent by Dallas County Medical Society doctors Todd A. Pollock and John T. Carlo confirmed Jenkins' statement.

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DCMS Condones Judge Clay Jenkins' Actions (Text)

"Ebola Virus Disease has limited survival in the environment," the release stated. "Because the judge was in the apartment well after 24 hours since the last time Mr. Duncan was there, the environmental contamination risk would be minimal to none."

Jenkins said he has confronted fear of Ebola from parents at his daughter's elementary school who were concerned their children might contract the disease from his daughter because of Jenkins' contact with those apartment residents.

"Judge Jenkins does not exhibit any signs or symptoms," the release stated. "So there is no risk to others he comes in contact with, including his family members."

On Monday, the Highland Park ISD sent a letter to parents at Armstrong Elementary School assuring them Ebola is not transmitted in that fashion.

Earlier Tuesday, the Dallas County Sheriff's Department decontaminated squad cars used by deputies who visited the Dallas apartment before it was decontaminated. Jenkins said the cars could not carry the infection, but he understands the decision to reduce employee concerns.

"The science is clear," Jenkins said. "Unless you came in contact with a person who was symptomatic with Ebola, you have a zero percent chance of contracting Ebola. The danger of people contracting Ebola is the danger to the health care workers who came in contact with Mr. Duncan and the other people who came in contact with Mr. Duncan.".

Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has now accused Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of using race and money in the decision to send Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan back to the apartment after an initial emergency room visit Sept. 26.

"If a person who looks like me shows up without insurance, they don't get the same treatment," Price said.

Duncan returned to Presbyterian two days later with severe symptoms of the Ebola virus and he was immediately placed in isolation. All of the people now under observation for the disease came in contact with Duncan during the time he was showing symptoms.

Texas senators met on Tuesday to discuss how the state has responded to the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S.

The hospital has confirmed that Duncan told a nurse he had recently traveled from West Africa, and it has offered conflicting information about why that did not trigger Ebola treatment on Duncan's first visit.

Presbyterian Hospital spokeswoman Candace White responded with an email statement Tuesday denying Price's accusation.

"Mr. Duncan was treated the way any other patient would have been treated, regardless of nationality or ability to pay for care. We have a long history of treating a multi-cultural community in this area," the statement said.

At Tuesday's Dallas County Commissioners Court meeting, Price offered a series of emails sent by the Dallas County Health and Human Services Department to all Dallas County hospitals starting in July to advise them about the potential for Ebola virus.

"They've done everything that they were supposed to do," Price said about the health department.

Rev. Jesse Jackson met with Thomas Duncan’s family Tuesday, then held a prayer vigil for the Ebola patient outside Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas.

County Health Director Zachary Thompson denied reports that his department was responsible for delays in the Ebola response.

"Our staff has given up their families, given up their time, given up sleep, to follow this particular case," Thompson said. "To even try to insinuate there was a misstep? There was no misstep by Dallas County Health and Human Services staff."

Jenkins said this is not the time to critique the Ebola response by the county or Presbyterian Hospital.

"I'm confident there will be an exhaustive look at that. Right now our focus is on keeping you safe. Not on looking at things in the rear view mirror," Jenkins said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday the list of people under observation for possible Ebola symptoms has been reduced to 38, including 10 who were most closely in contact with Duncan.

This week is prime time for possible Ebola symptoms to develop in that group.

Dallas County is also asking the CDC to provide a safety assessment of the Dallas apartment complex where Duncan stayed to confirm it is safe for neighbors after cleaning was finished last week.

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CDC Letter 10 7 14 (Text)
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