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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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Filed under: Ebola
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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Filed under: Ebola
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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Filed under: Ebola
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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Filed under: Ebola
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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Filed under: Kobani
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 2nd, 2014
05:54 AM ET

U.S. Ebola Case: Fear, Frustration Grow

America's first diagnosed Ebola victim is contained, but three things are still spreading: fear, frustration and the search for his contacts.

While Thomas Eric Duncan remains in critical condition at a Dallas hospital, some parents are scared to take their kids to the school that his girlfriend's children attended.

Others are upset at the hospital where Duncan first sought care, which sent him home and raised the possibility he could infect others for at least two additional days.

As the search continues for those Duncan had contact with, here's the latest on how the case is affecting others:

'I just got scared'

Duncan was in Dallas visiting his girlfriend, Liberian community leader Stanley Gaye said.

Among the people he came in contact with, Gaye said: his girlfriend's five children.

Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles said the patient came in contact with five students who attended four different schools in the area.

Sam Tasby Middle School is one of those schools.

"I just got scared because I thought that that kid came to that school and probably got contact with him," said Nellie Catalan, whose child attends the school.

"I know it doesn't get (spread) by the air, but you never know."

More than 3,500 students attend the four schools. Each is getting cleaned and sanitized over the next few days.

Student Denise Trujillo said she's still worried.

"I don't feel like going to school tomorrow," she said.

While the five students who were near Duncan are staying home and being monitored, their schools will remain open.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

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Filed under: Ebola
September 22nd, 2014
05:46 AM ET

White House Security Beefed Up

The U.S. Secret Service is planning to boost its presence and its surveillance measures around the White House on Monday after an Iraq war veteran, who is apparently suffering from PTSD, jumped over a White House fence.

Officers patrolling the area will be out in greater numbers and will be "looking for individuals who don't look like tourists," a federal law enforcement officer told CNN.

Two security incidents in two days have raised concerns about the safety at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

On Friday, Omar Gonzalez hopped the north fence and sprinted just past the north portico White House doors when he was stopped, Secret Service spokesman Brian Leary said.

Gonzalez carried a Spyderco VG-10 folding knife with a 3-and-a-half inch serrated blade in his pants pocket, according to an affidavit.

A Secret Service officer said he yelled at the intruder to stop. Gonzalez told a Secret Service agent "that he was concerned that the atmosphere was collapsing and needed to get the information to the President of the United States so that he could get the word out to the people," according to the affidavit.

President Barack Obama and his family were not at home at the time.

See more on this developing story on CNN.com

September 1st, 2014
05:40 AM ET

Exclusive: Americans detained in North Korea speak to CNN

Three Americans detained in North Korea spoke out about their conditions Monday in an exclusive interview with CNN.

Kenneth Bae, Matthew Todd Miller and Jeffrey Edward Fowle met with CNN's Will Ripley at a hotel in Pyongyang. Each was given five minutes for an interview.

Bae, who is serving a 15-year prison sentence for "hostile acts to bring down its government," said he is working eight hours a day, six days a week at a labor camp.

"Continue to pray for me," he asked of his friends and family.

Despite what he called "hard labor," Bae said he has been treated "as humanely as possible."

Miller pleaded for help from the U.S. government during his interview.

"My situation is very urgent, that very soon I am going to trial, and I would directly be sent to prison," Miller said.

MORE on CNN.com.

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Filed under: North Korea
August 25th, 2014
05:40 AM ET

California Earthquake Damages Historic Buildings

In the heart of Northern California's wine country, piles of stemware lay shattered on the ground.

Building facades in historic downtown Napa crumbled into the streets.

And residents who enjoyed decades of calm were harshly reminded that intense quakes can strike anytime.

"I was in shock to see people's homes and offices on the floor," Napa resident Elise Martinez said. "This is life-changing."

But even as the Bay Area tries to clean up from its strongest earthquake in 25 years, the tremor could have been much worse.

No one was killed in the 6.0-magnitude earthquake that jostled residents awake early Sunday morning, though more than 100 people were injured.

And while 70,000 customers lost power after the quake, that number dwindled 2,200 by Monday morning, electric company PG&E said.

See the latest on CNN.com

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