Officially, Dallas heaved a public sigh of relief Friday, marking the last day when anybody local would be screened for Ebola symptoms. But some in the community are staying focused on West Africa, where the infection continues.
“We are a global community, and until it is resolved for everyone it is not resolved for anyone,” said Cindy Wiles, executive director of Restore Hope, an Arlington-based ministry that will be hosting a food-packing event Sunday, with volunteers boxing 10,000 meals bound for Sierra Leone.
The World Health Organization released a new estimate for the toll of the illness in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone: About 5,000 known dead and more than 13,000 known infections. The actual numbers are probably higher. And while new cases may be declining in Liberia and Guinea, there’s no indication the pace has slowed in Sierra Leone.
For North Texas, however, the spotlight was finally off. All total, 177 people had been monitored for the disease after possibly coming into contact with one of three Dallas patients. None contracted Ebola. The Texas health department signaled the all-clear with a tweet early Friday evening:
“It’s official. This evening’s final monitoring check is done. No symptoms. We are happy to close this Ebola chapter with Dallas tonight.”
A Hug from Bush
Friday’s splashiest media moment was surely a visit from former President George W. Bush to Presbyterian, where he was greeted by Vinson, one of the two nurses who have since recovered. Bush is no stranger to the hospital; he had heart surgery there last year.
Upon being introduced, Bush gave Vinson a kiss on the forehead and a big hug.
“You look great,” he said. “It’s nice of you to be here to say hi to your buds.”
“I miss these guys so much,” Vinson said. “They are the best.”
Pham sent out a tweet: “Dallas is officially #Ebola free today! So grateful to all the doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers that were involved in my care.”
The hospital’s official statement included support for the staff and regrets for Duncan’s death:
“These two courageous nurses, and so many others, put the needs of a patient first and valiantly worked to save the life of a man who faced, and ultimately lost, his battle with this disease. Today we remember and honor him, and his family remains in our hearts and prayers.”