Rahm Says City Prepared if Ebola Patients Arrive in City

Posted: 10/28/2014

LINCOLN PARK- The mayor said Monday he is confident the city has protocols in place to deal with any potential Ebola sufferers landing at Chicago's airports.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said two incidents where travelers had been identified as potential Ebola patients, isolated and monitored until a determination was made had served as a "trial run" to test the system.

"Thank God nobody was infected," Emanuel said at a news conference in Lincoln Park. "We've actually run the traps, and now we know how the system operates."

The mayor said Chicago and other cities had learned from mistakes made in Dallas, where a man eventually died of Ebola after returning from Liberia. At least two nurses that treated him were later infected with Ebola.

"You go back to what happened in Dallas," Emanuel said. "Chicago hasn't had a situation."

Emanuel said the "state's clarifications" since Gov. Pat Quinn issued a mandatory 21-day quarantine for health workers exposed to the deadly virus last week had made clear the process.

"The quarantine we have in place, the city, relates to front-line workers who have been exposed without protective gear or their skin in some way has been punctured by a needle," Emanuel said. It is not a blanket quarantine for all health workers returning from western Africa.

In addition, anyone having traveled in that region who shows symptoms such as a fever would also be subject to quarantine.

According to Emanuel, the vast majority of those arriving in the United States from west Africa - 94 percent - land at three other airports: Dulles in Washington, D.C., JFK in New York City or Newark in New Jersey. "Chicago gets a small portion," he added, at O'Hare and Midway.

Emanuel said his administration and Public Health Commissioner Bechara Choucair had already "created a network of hospitals" prepared to deal with Ebola patients, and Choucair was set to meet with neighborhood clinics this week to set more standards for treatment. "That's beyond what the [Centers for Disease Control] is recommending," he added.


Courtesy of DNAinfo Chicago