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October 16th, 2014
05:20 AM ET

Texas Hospital Apologizes for Ebola Mistakes: 'We Are Deeply Sorry'

A hospital official apologizes for blunders in handling Ebola. Schools close for fear of possible exposure. And health officials consider putting 76 hospital workers on a no-fly list after an infected nurse flew on a plane with a fever.

Here's the latest on the Ebola in the United States:

Hospital official: 'We are deeply sorry'

The Texas hospital where an Ebola patient died and two nurses became infected is apologizing for mistakes made when first confronted with the deadly virus.

Dr. Daniel Varga said the hospital mishandled the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, the Ebola patient who was originally sent home from Texas Presbyterian Health Dallas hospital even after he had a fever and said he was from Liberia.

"Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes," Varga, the chief clinical officer for Texas Health Services, said in written testimony to the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

"We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola. We are deeply sorry."

Days after Duncan returned to the hospital, he died from the virus.

But Varga did outline a timeline of the hospital's preparation, saying hospital staffers were given guidance on looking for Ebola symptoms several times over the summer.

He said the hospital has made several policy changes, such as updating the emergency department screening process to include a patient's travel history and increasing training for staffers.

CDC considers grounding Texas hospital workers

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now considering putting 76 health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Dallas on the Transportation Security Administration's no-fly list, an official familiar with the situation said.

The official also said the CDC is considering lowering the fever threshold that would be considered a possible sign of Ebola. The current threshold is 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit.

The idea came after news that Amber Vinson, a nurse who cared for Duncan, flew home from Cleveland to Dallas after reporting a fever.

Vinson called the CDC to report an elevated temperature of 99.5 Fahrenheit. She informed the agency that she was getting on a plane, a federal official told CNN, but she wasn't told to stay grounded.

Vinson, 29, is now being treated at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, which has successfully treated two other patients.

Staffing issues at the hospital were behind the decision to transfer Vinson to Emory, a federal official told CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

"What we're hearing is that they are worried about staffing issues and a possible walkout of nurses," the official said.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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October 15th, 2014
06:06 AM ET

Second Health Care Worker Tests Positive for Ebola

A second health care worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who cared for Thomas Eric Duncan has tested positive for Ebola, the state's health department said Wednesday.

The worker reported a fever Tuesday and was immediately isolated, health department spokeswoman Carrie Williams said.

The preliminary Ebola test was done late Tuesday at the state public health laboratory in Austin, and the results came back around midnight. A second test will be conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

"Health officials have interviewed the latest patient to quickly identify any contacts or potential exposures, and those people will be monitored," the health department said. "The type of monitoring depends on the nature of their interactions and the potential they were exposed to the virus."

But the pool of contacts could be small, since Ebola can only be transmitted when an infected person shows symptoms. Less than a day passed between the onset of the worker's symptoms and isolation at the hospital.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com.

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October 15th, 2014
04:07 AM ET

Follow Christine Romans on Her Journey to Trace Her Roots

“As a journalist, I interview and write about newsmakers – but in my family, the real newsmaker was just an ordinary girl who had the courage ... to leave everything she knew and start all over again in America." – Christine Romans

See Romans trace her history from Iowa back to Denmark where she learns her great-great-grandmother was a risk taker and a giver.

The Danish Archives collects and stores historic sources and makes them available to the public.

Almost all of the documents revealed on Christine Romans journey is found online.

If you have lineage that dates back to Denmark, go online to www.sa.dk for more information!

And for more history from other familiar faces of CNN, visit CNN.com/Roots

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RELATED: 10 things you didn't know about Christine

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October 14th, 2014
05:43 AM ET

Nursing 'More Than a Career' for Ebola Patient

She tackled one of the toughest jobs any nurse could take - treating a highly contagious Ebola patient. And somehow along the way, she contracted the deadly virus herself.

Now, as Nina Pham tries to recover in the same hospital where she works, details of her life and career are beginning to emerge.

Here's what we know about the 26-year-old Texan:

She's Vietnamese-American

Pham grew up in a Vietnamese family in Fort Worth, Texas.

She didn't go far away for college, attending Texas Christian University in the same city. Pham graduated with a nursing license in 2010.

And just two months ago, Pham received certification in critical care nursing, which deals specifically with life-threatening problems.

She's very religious

"She is a very devoted Catholic, and always puts the other people's interests ahead of her own," said family friend Tom Ha, who has known Pham since she was in 8th grade.

Ha taught Pham in Bible class at his church.

"She comes from a family that is (of) a very strong faith. So I don't surprised that she (did) more than her duty called for in order to make sure the patient had a chance to survive," Ha said.

When Pham called the church to let members know she contracted Ebola, "everybody at the church were crying at that moment."

She loves her job

Ha, the family friend, said nursing isn't just a job for Pham - it's a calling.

"I think that she take it (as) more than a career. I think it's a vocation, because her family, from the time that we met, they always serve other people," he said.

When she was accepted into nursing school, she was really excited, a family friend told the Dallas Morning News. "Her mom would tell her how it's really hard and a bunch of her friends quit doing it because it was so stressful," the friend told the paper. "But she was like, 'This is what I want to do.'"

She's a good teacher

Not only is Pham skilled in proper nursing techniques, she was a scrupulous teacher, too.

Jennifer Joseph trained under Pham at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Though she now works at another hospital, she remembers the guidance she received from Pham.

"Knowing Nina, she's one of the most meticulous, thorough, effective nurses," Joseph told CNN affiliate KTVT. "She taught me infection control and hand hygiene and protocol. I learned so much of that from her."

Joseph said she also has faith those taking care of her now will help their colleague recover.

"I have full confidence they'll be able to get her through this."

She has a sense of humor

Among the boards she set up on her Pinterest account are two filled with funny e-cards: "Laughter is the best medicine" and "Nurse things."

"I hate the questions that start with, 'So you're a nurse, let me ask you ..." read one of the pins she posted.

She adores her dog

Many of Pham's photos on social media feature her King Charles spaniel, Bentley.

After Spanish authorities euthanized an Ebola patient's dog last week, many in Dallas feared Pham's dog might face the same fate.

But Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said Bentley is safe and being cared for in quarantine.

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October 13th, 2014
06:06 AM ET

'Breach in Protocol' Led to New Ebola Infection in Texas

On the surface, the nurse seemed to have taken all the precautions needed to protect herself from Ebola.

She wore a mask, gown, shield and gloves. Her patient was isolated in an American hospital.

And yet the woman still contracted Ebola, marking the first known transmission ever in the United States.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say there was a breach in protocol, but haven't elaborated on what it means. Instead, it said the protocols laid out for American hospitals work.

So what happened? How could a nurse at an American hospital contract the virus? And how troubling is it?

How it happened

CDC officials have spoken to the infected nurse, and she wasn't able to point to a specific breach.

"At some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection," the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Thomas Frieden, said at a news conference Sunday.

The nurse, who works at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, had been treating Thomas Eric Duncan - the first patient ever diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. Duncan died Wednesday.

The CDC is looking at several possibilities as to how that breach may have happened.

The agency says it will be looking at two areas in particular:

a) whether the infection occurred during kidney dialysis or respiratory intubation.

Duncan underwent both procedures "as a desperate measure to try to save his life," Frieden said. "Both of those procedures may spread contaminated materials and are considered high-risk procedures."

b) whether the infection occurred during the removal of protective equipment.

"When you have potentially soiled or contaminated gloves or masks or other things, to remove those without any risk of any contaminated material ... touching you and being then on your clothes or face or skin ... is not easy to do right."

Or the problem could have been something else entirely.

CNN Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen said precautions among health care workers can actually go overboard sometimes.

"For example, they are supposed to double glove in some situations. Well, triple gloving is a violation of protocol and actually could make things worse, instead of making things better, because then you need to take off three pairs of gloves ... gloves with infectious stuff on them."

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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October 10th, 2014
05:24 AM ET

Malala Yousafzai, Kailash Satyarthi Share Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to India's Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai for their struggle against the suppression of young people's and children's right to education.

Thorbjorn Jagland, chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said, "Children must go to school, not be financially exploited."

The Norwegian Nobel Committee received a record 278 nominations for the 2014 prize, 47 of which were for organizations.

Last year's winner was the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, for its longstanding efforts to "do away with a whole category of weapons of mass destruction."

Each prize carries with it a monetary reward of 8 million Swedish kronor (about $1.1 million) to be divided among the winners.

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Ebola protection
October 10th, 2014
04:33 AM ET

Ebola Comment Gets Man Hazmat Escort From Plane

Ebola is no laughing matter, especially not at airports or on planes, where screenings have gotten tighter.

So, when a man on a flight on Wednesday may have joked that he had been to Africa and had the deadly disease, he received a special escort off the plane.

Four officials in blue plastic hazmat suits boarded U.S. Airways Flight 845 to retrieve him after it landed in Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic.

"I was just kidding," he could be heard saying in a video posted to social media. "I ain't from Africa!" he continued, as he walked with the officials down the aisle of the plane.

The Dominican officials had met the plane coming from Philadelphia on the tarmac "due to a possible health issue on board," U.S. Airways said in statement.

"We are following the direction of, and strictly adhering to, all Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines in place for airlines in response to the Ebola virus," the airline said.

Before the men came aboard in their bubble-like suits, a flight attendant prepared passengers for what they were about to see. Sit down and listen, she told them.

"It's going to look worse than it is," she said over the PA system. The glow of cell phone cameras filled the cabin and videos of what happened later hit social media.

The attendant spared the passenger who made the comment no indignity. She had seen nothing like this in 36 years of flying, she said.

"I think the man that has said this is an idiot, and I'll say that straight out, and if you hear me that's fine," she announced. Then she introduced the men wearing hazmat suits over bulky breathing apparatuses.

Passengers reacted with astonishment, anger and fear.

"You can't make this stuff up," a passenger can be heard saying in the online video.

Others covered their faces and scooted away in their seats."Don't touch this guy," someone could be heard saying.

A boo or two went through the cabin as the man walked by. Once he was off, the officials checked the plane then gave it clearance.

CNN has not been able to confirm the comment the man allegedly made, but according to local media reports in the Dominican Republic citing the airport's director of operations, it was:

"I have Ebola. You're all screwed."

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October 9th, 2014
05:55 AM ET

U.S. Military: Airstrikes Against ISIS Won't Save Key City of Kobani

U.S. airstrikes "are not going to save" the key Syrian city of Kobani from being overtaken by ISIS, said Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby.

"I think we all should be steeling ourselves for that eventuality," he told reporters in a daily briefing Wednesday.

"We are doing everything we can to halt" ISIS' progress against the town, but airstrikes alone cannot stop the Islamist militants, Kirby added.

"We've been very honest about the limits of air power here. The ground forces that matter the most are indigenous ground forces, and we don't have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria right now - it's just a fact," he said.

The greater U.S. strategy, Kirby said, is to degrade ISIS' ability to sustain itself.

Several senior U.S. administration officials said Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, which calls itself the Islamic State.

They downplayed the importance of it, saying the city is not a major U.S. concern.

But a look at the city shows why it would mark an important strategic victory for the militants. ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey - a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

As Time.com put it, "If the ISIS militants take control of Kobani, they will have a huge strategic corridor along the Turkish border, linking with the terrorist group's positions in Aleppo to the west and Raqqa to the east."

Staffan de Mistura, U.N. special envoy for Syria, warned of the horrors ISIS could carry out against the people of Kobani - horrors it has carried out elsewhere. "The international community needs to defend them," he said. "The international community cannot sustain another city falling under ISIS."

The terrorist group claimed it had downed at Iraqi army helicopter in Baiji. Photographs posted to an ISIS website show smoke and fire around an aircraft, which is then seen completely charred on the ground.

A truck bomb driven by ISIS exploded near the center of Kobani. Two civilians and a fighter inside the city described it as huge. The target was a security forces building, they said.

However, Kurdish official Idriss Nassan told CNN, the truck did not reach its intended target and detonated early.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com.

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October 8th, 2014
05:54 AM ET

Officials: ISIS Will Capture Key Syrian Border City

The key Syrian border city of Kobani will soon fall to ISIS, but that's not a major U.S. concern, several senior U.S. administration officials said.

If Kobani falls, ISIS would control a complete swath of land between its self-declared capital of Raqqa, Syria, and Turkey - a stretch of more than 100 kilometers (62 miles).

The U.S. officials said the primary goals are not to save Syrian cities and towns, but to go after ISIS' senior leadership, oil refineries and other infrastructure that would curb the terror group's ability to operate - particularly in Iraq.

Saving Iraq is a more strategic goal for several reasons, the officials said. First, the United States has a relationship with the Iraqi government. By contrast, the Obama administration wants Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

Another reason: The United States has partners on the ground in Iraq, including Iraqi forces and Kurdish fighters known as Peshmerga.

But on Tuesday, a top U.N. official implored world leaders to take action as Syrian Kurdish fighters defending Kobani are dangerously outmatched.

"They have been defending themselves with great courage. But they are now very close to not being able to do so," said Staffan de Mistura, the U.N. special envoy for Syria.

"They are fighting with normal weapons, whereas the ISIS has got tanks and mortars," he said. "The international community needs to defend them. The international community cannot sustain another city falling under ISIS."

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: ISIS • Kobani • Syria
October 7th, 2014
04:39 AM ET

Spain Has Outbreak's 1st Known Case of Contracting Ebola Outside of Africa

A nurse's assistant in Spain is the first person known to have contracted Ebola outside of Africa in the current outbreak.

Spanish Health Minister Ana Mato announced Monday that a test confirmed the assistant has the virus.

The woman helped treat a Spanish missionary and a Spanish priest, both of whom had contracted Ebola in West Africa. Both died after returning to Spain.

Health officials said she developed symptoms on September 30. She was not hospitalized until this week. Her only symptom was a fever.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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