First Ebola Patient Diagnosed In U.S. Dies At Dallas Hospital
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In Dallas the first person diagnosed with the Ebola virus in the U.S. died today. Thomas Eric Duncan died this morning at the hospital where he was being treated. As his family mourns, authorities continue to monitor people with whom he had contact. So far there's no clear evidence the virus that killed Duncan has spread to others.
NPR's Jeff Brady has this report.
JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Thomas Eric Duncan was in Dallas to be with his family and fiancee. Wilshire Baptist Church senior pastor George Mason says he was among those who broke the news this morning to the woman Duncan planned to marry.
GEORGE MASON: It was a painful and difficult time for her. She reacted as almost anyone would, with great shock and despair.
BRADY: Mason says his church is planning a remembrance for Duncan at a service this evening. Dallas Mayor Michael Rawlings took time from a city council meeting to express condolences to Duncan's family and friends.
Then he sought to assure residents of his city.
(SOUNDBITE OF PRESS CONFERENCE)
MAYOR MICHAEL RAWLINGS: We will stop the Ebola virus in its tracks from spreading into our community. I want to reinforce to the public that this was an isolated incident.
BRADY: Mayor Rawlings said he wants people to remember Duncan did not acquire the disease here, but in Liberia, where there is an Ebola outbreak. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden also sought to calm fears about Ebola at a press conference announcing new screening guidelines at U.S. airports. He said the CDC is constantly looking for ways to increase safety for Americans.
THOMAS FRIEDEN: We do that in Dallas, where officials there are working intensively to monitor every person who might have had contact with the indexed patient to ensure that if they do develop fever, they're immediately isolated and the chain of transmission can be broken.
BRADY: Still, the Dallas area is on edge, waiting for news of whether the virus has spread to others. A sheriff's deputy showed up at a suburban urgent care clinic feeling ill. While he says he was in the apartment where Duncan was staying and had contact with the family, he is not among those authorities are monitoring.
In Duncan's neighborhood, Vickery Meadows, people reacted to his death.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: I just find out on the news, yeah. Yeah, it was very sad and scary, to be honest.
BRADY: At a restaurant, Tejayva Geberwaldt (ph) says Ebola has not affected his family back home in Ethiopia and he was surprised that Duncan died.
TEJAYVA GEBERWALDT: It was scary because with all this advanced medical equipments that we have here in the United States, it's kind of unbelievable for this guy to die with all this help provided to him. So I still don't have any more opinion, other than that.
BRADY: Across town, Cindy Jardu(ph) says the news that Duncan died was terrible.
CINDY JARDU: Well, I was hoping he'd pull through, definitely. But I guess there's a little part of me that expected it.
BRADY: While most people on the street interviewed for this story expressed little concern for their own safety, most were disappointed that the first Ebola case diagnosed in the U.S. was happening here. Dana Pearson says he has lived in the city for nearly three decades.
DANA PEARSON: Well, I hate to be on the map for such a terrible disease, but it was inevitable. I don't think it was something that we're going to be able to escape. The world's just too small.
BRADY: The Texas State Department of Health Services says Duncan's body will be cremated. That will kill the virus and then the ashes can be returned to his family.
Jeff Brady, NPR News, Dallas.
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