DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM/AP) – Texas health officials have ordered four close family members of the Ebola patient in Dallas to stay in their home, and they’ve posted law enforcement outside to be sure.
“They were non-compliant with requests to stay home,” said Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins on Thursday when explaining the presence of officers.
Texas state health commissioner David Lakey said the unusual quarantine step with the four relatives was so health officials could do the necessary monitoring, including checking them for fevers twice a day over the next 21 days. None of the family members are showing any signs of fever or Ebola symptoms.
“We didn’t have the confidence we would have been able to monitor them the way that we needed to,” Lakey said.
Lakey also said he signed the quarantine order after information about the family members led him to believe it was in the public’s best interest to make sure they did not leave their home. He did not elaborate about what information led him to make that decision.
DCHHS Director Zachary Thompson says the family members understand the precautionary steps being taken and have signaled that they are willing to comply.
“We didn’t meet any resistance with them understanding,” said Thompson. “We thoroughly read each line of the order and asked them if they would be willing to comply. They emphatically said they would comply with the order. I never saw any resistance from them.”
Judge Jenkins says that several days of food have been delivered to the apartment and a contractor has been hired to thoroughly clean the apartment.
“Those people in the apartment are part of Dallas County, and they are going to be treated with the utmost respect and dignity in this unusual situation,” noted Jenkins.
Jenkins said the Ebola patient’s belongings and clothes and household trash, possibly including his sheets, are bagged inside the house so the family members cannot come into contact with them until they are removed.
Federal and Texas health officials are reaching out to about 100 people to determine if they have had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who continues to be hospitalized in Dallas.
But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden said Thursday they’ve only identified a handful of individuals so far who may really have been exposed and therefore will be monitored.
Duncan remains in serious condition at Texas Presbyterian Hospital. A guard is posted outside his door and he’s not being allowed any visitors. However, he does have a phone and is able to communicate with his family.
Experimental treatments have been discussed and are available for Duncan’s treatment, according to Frieden. Duncan and his treating physician will make the final decision about whether those experimental medicines are used.
Frieden confirmed Duncan was screened before he boarded his flight out of Liberia and showed no signs of fever. His temperature was taken with a CDC approved thermometer by an individual trained by the CDC. Duncan did not have a fever while traveling and didn’t show symptoms until five days after arriving in the US, said Freiden.
While Duncan’s family members are under quarantine, health officials say they do not plan on issuing any additional quarantine orders. While the CDC has not contacted all the people on its contact tracing list (the 100 or so people who may have had face to face contact with Duncan), health officials say no one came into contact with Duncan at a workplace or community location.
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