USA Today reports that “Hospital workers treating Ebola patients should wear double sets of gloves, disposable hoods with full face shields and special masks, according to strengthened guidelines issued” last night by the CDC. CDC Director Thomas Frieden “said all health workers also should undergo ‘rigorous training’ and practice in putting on and taking off PPE in a systematic way that reduces their risk of infection. There should be no exposed skin, Frieden said.” He “noted that staff treating Ebola patients at Atlanta’s Emory University Hospital, Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha and the National Institutes of Health have followed the procedures he outlined” yesterday.
The Washington Post (10/21, Sun, Berman) reports, “The beefed-up guidelines also call for health-care workers...to be supervised by trained monitors when putting on and taking off personal protective equipment.” The Post adds, “The government will issue step-by-step instructions for workers to follow in doing that.” During “a media briefing” yesterday, “Frieden said the updated guidelines give a greater margin of safety to health-care workers.”
The Los Angeles Times (10/21, Morin) reports that “The guidelines, which were scheduled to be posted on the CDC’s website late Monday night, were described by CDC Director Thomas Frieden during a telephone news conference.” Frieden said, “Previous guidelines ... allowed for exposure of skin, and I think that made people nervous.” He added, “It’s perfectly sensible to say that that’s something that should not happen.” The Times point out that on Sunday, “Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, took to the airwaves and acknowledged that two nurses in Dallas may have been infected by their exposure to...Thomas Eric Duncan.” Before “that, Frieden had suggested that the nurses may have become infected by failing to follow the guidelines.”
The AP (10/21, Stobbe, Schmall) reports that the guidelines also “ask hospitals to establish designated areas for putting on and taking off equipment, whether it’s a room adjacent to an Ebola patient’s room or a hallway area cordoned off with a plastic sheet.” The AP points out that “the CDC guidance was expected as early as Saturday, but its release has been pushed back while it continues to go through review by experts and government officials.”
Bloomberg News (10/21, Chen, Lauerman) reports, “In addition to the new rules for caregivers, the CDC will be updating its guidelines for monitoring and movement of” individuals “who have been exposed to Ebola virus, said John O’Connor, co-leader of the agency’s Joint Information Center in an interview.” Bloomberg News adds, “The recommendations cover issues including when people who have been exposed to possible contact with patients should be told to keep track of their health.”
Hazardous waste disposal poses problems for Ebola caretakers. The CBS Evening News (10/20, story 5, 2:05, Pelley) aired a segment discussing the issue of Ebola waste disposal. According to the report, “140 55-gallon drums of contaminated material were removed from the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan had been staying.” An Ebola patient “generates about eight 55-gallon barrel of hazardous material” daily, meaning anything with which an Ebola patient comes in contact. CBS ran footage of Rep. Marsha Blackburn’s question to CDC Director Thomas Frieden at a congressional hearing Friday, in which she asked if waste is “as contagious as a patient with Ebola.” Frieden assured Blackburn that the “virus is not particularly hardy” and can be killed with bleach.
Republicans move on from travel ban to visa suspension. While many still call for travel bans, the newest approach reported is to call for visa suspensions. The New York Times (10/21, Weisman, Subscription Publication) reports that Republican lawmakers called for strategic suspension of visas in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry and Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, in an effort to limit the number of people from West Africa who enter the US.
The Washington Times (10/21, Sherfinski) also reports that Sen. Marco Rubio announced Monday that he plans to introduce legislation to temporarily ban new visas for citizens of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. Politico (10/20, Haberkorn) notes that the legislation includes an exemption for those coming to the US to train to combat Ebola. Rubio said of the legislation, “This ban on issuance of visas does not mean we will be completely cutting off the affected countries from the outside world,” adding that “we must continue to increase our assistance to those countries as they struggle to contain this outbreak.” The Hill (10/20, Byrnes) also covers the story.