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New York 'fully prepared' to handle Ebola case

Read all of our coverage of the Ebola situation across the globe.

NEW YORK – New York’s mayor said Friday that the city’s health system is fully equipped to handle Ebola after a doctor who had been infected in West Africa was hospitalized in the U.S.’ largest city.

Doctor Craig Spencer, 33, was in stable condition in isolation at Bellevue Hospital Center after testing positive for the illness, which has killed nearly 4,900 people in West Africa.

He was rushed to the hospital with fever and gastrointestinal symptoms on Thursday, a week after returning from treating Ebola patients in Guinea with the charity group Doctors Without Borders.

His live-in fiancée and two of his close friends are in quarantine but healthy, officials said.

“There is no cause for alarm,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told a news conference. “New Yorkers need to understand the situation is being handled and handled well.”

“We are fully prepared to handle Ebola. Our medical experts here in the city have been studying this disease intensively and working closely with our federal partners,” de Blasio said.

New York, one of the largest points of entry to the United States, had been braced for months for a possible Ebola case.

Its two largest international airports, Newark and JFK, this month introduced health checks for passengers travelling from West Africa, and four city hospitals are equipped to cope with Ebola.

Spencer’s case is the first diagnosed in the United States outside Texas. In Dallas, two nurses contracted the virus after treating a Liberian patient who later died of Ebola.

Obama hug for cured Ebola nurse

The nurses were declared cured on Friday, and 26-year-old Nina Pham was healthy enough to leave hospital and meet President Barack Obama for a hug at the White House before returning home.

Obama has been vocal in calling on people not to give in to fear or hysteria, stressing that Ebola does not spread easily and that the United States is well-equipped to deal with any new cases.

Pham smiled and appeared healthy, wearing a turquoise shirt and dark business suit at a news conference outside the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

“I feel fortunate and blessed to be standing here today,” she said, expressing her gratitude for those who prayed for her and cared for her while she was sick.

Pham was the first U.S. health care worker to be infected with Ebola while working inside the United States, catching the disease from Thomas Eric Duncan, who was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas on September 28.

Her colleague, nurse Amber Vinson, also become infected. She, too, is clear of the virus but has not yet been released from Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.

“Tests no longer detect virus in her blood,” the hospital said, adding that she would stay in the serious communicable diseases unit for continued supportive care until further notice.

Pham and Vinson worked in the intensive care unit, though it remains unknown exactly how they were infected.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said a “breach of protocol” was to blame, and has since issued stricter guidelines for donning protective gear when caring for Ebola patients.

In New York, crews in full protective dress arrived outside Spencer’s apartment building in West Harlem on Friday, taking a number of blue barrels inside to remove some items.

A spokesman said the apartment was not believed to be contaminated because there was no vomiting or diarrhea.

New Yorkers ‘not at risk’

De Blasio said the apartment was “locked and isolated.”

Ebola is spread though close contact with the sweat, vomit, blood or other bodily fluids of an infected person.

Authorities downplayed fears of casual infection after it emerged that Spencer had ridden the subway, visited a bowling alley, public garden, coffee shop and restaurant before going to hospital.

“New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person are simply not at risk,” said de Blasio.

Health department detectives have traced all his prior movements, visiting each establishment and are clearing them from any risk.

Republican politicians — and some New Yorkers — have expressed outrage that the doctor moved freely through the city.

Some have called for a mandatory quarantine for health workers returning from Ebola-afflicted countries.

Spencer flew home, via Europe, on October 17. He is a fellow of international emergency medicine at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center.

The hospital called him a “dedicated humanitarian” and “responsible physician who always puts his patients first.”

Nine people with Ebola have been cared for in the United States, and all have survived except Duncan.

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Asok Smith

I’ve been telling people for quite a while now that if/when Ebola hit either D.C. or New York City, the rules would suddenly change. And now it has and now they have.

Cuomo’s and Cristy’s super rapid bipartisan no BS Ebola-stopping policy of “we’re quarantining them all” is interesting on a number of fronts:

1. It means these two governors realize how serious this situation is, even if that fool Obama doesn’t. These two know that a few more cases like the current one will grind their big cities to a halt.

2. These two are also daring Obama to come after them. Ordinarily, Obama would have his DOJ sue any other governor for usurping federal authority; he’s done that repeatedly to the southern border states. But Obama’s going to have a REALLY tough time against these two who are in bipartisan league. Not to mention, the country is going to come down REALLY firmly on the side of these two governors and REALLY firmly against Obama. Congressional partisanship has also mostly been rendered moot by their bipartisan action as well.

3. Obama has now been totally bypassed and essentially rendered irrelevant on the Ebola issue.

4 Unless the three other designated Ebola-entry airports take the same measures as New York and New Jersey, then all West African traffic will shift to those three airports, thereby keeping it out of of NY and NJ. So these two governors have set up a win-win situation for themselves and their states: either the other three airports institute their policies, meaning the two governors have performed the national policy leadership that Obama refuses to exercise, OR all of the Ebola traffic shifts out of their two states. If that’s not a stroke of genius, I don’t know what is.

5. Most of the “Progressives” that have been railing against quarantines by viciously attacking anyone calling for such measures will suddenly start supporting the quarantine position (“We’ve ALWAYS been at war with Eastasia”).

Basically, what these two governors have done is a game-changer at the national level.

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As a lifelong New Yorker, I can’t disagree with you more. Ebola is an exxagerated fear for midterms. Andrew Cuomo can’t stand in the shadow of his father, he is an utter failure as Governor of NYS. He has been sucking up to the corporate money in hopes to make a run in 2016. He does not have a chance in hell, as he has ostracized his base. Chrisie just passed sports betting in NJ in hopes that he can revive an economy that he and his policies have driven into the ground. I also find that ironic considering his stand on medical marijuana. You are living a Conservative pipe dream Asok. Maybe too much Fox News has been in your diet? The Corporations are under fire because they have taken away the power from the people, and eroded Democratic values. The media is the main muscle behind the corporations, and they too are at an all time low. So respectfully, I must say that I find your echo chamber to be greatly misguided. Now, where is it that you reside? I doubt that you have spent a whole lot of time in the northeast.

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Wherever you are, are you hearing candidates talk about (1) raising the minimum wage (supported by 78% of the electorate), (2) raising taxes on the rich to finance better schools for all (supported by 63%), (3) putting people back to work by repairing our roads, bridges, water, and public transportation systems (58% support), (4) making childcare more affordable (71% support), (5) raising taxes on companies with high ratios of CEO pay to average workers, and lowering them on companies with low ratios (61% support), (6) resurrecting the Glass-Steagall Act and limiting the size of big Wall Street banks (72% support), or (7) requiring big companies to provide paid family and medical leave (74% support)?

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