San Jose Police Crack Down On Violence

The San Jose Police Department is cracking down on violent crime after the city's 25th homicide this year.

KQED Launches Affordable Care Act Guide

Are you confused about Obamacare? KQED and The California Report created a guide to help answer your questions about the Affordable Care Act.

First Ebola Patient Diagnosed in U.S. Dies

Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., died in Dallas Wednesday. As Ebola continues to spread in West Africa, where more than 3,400 people have died of the disease, five of the busiest US international airports will begin enhanced screening measures to find travelers infected with Ebola. Forum will discuss how prepared the Bay Area is for a possible Ebola outbreak and what the U.S., and the world, can do to contain the disease.

UC Riverside Aims to Keep New Doctors Working in Inland Empire

When UC Riverside opened its medical school two years ago, it was the first new medical school in the UC system since 1967. It now has 100 students. But it doesn't just want to turn out more doctors -- part of the school's mission involves working to keep them in the area. That's because the Inland Empire has among the lowest number of doctors in California.

PBS NewsHour

Dallas Nurse declared Ebola free, set to be released from hospital

Nina Pham

Nina Pham, a 26-year-old Dallas nurse, contracted Ebola while caring for patient Eric Thomas Duncan. Video still by PBS NewsHour

The first nurse in the U.S. diagnosed with Ebola, Nina Pham, is now free of the virus and set to be released, National Institutes of Health officials said today.

Pham is one of two nurses to contract Ebola in Dallas while caring for infected patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who succumb to the virus earlier this month. She was transferred to, and has been treated at, the NIH hospital outside Washington. Pham’s dog Bentley tested negative for Ebola.

A press briefing on Pham’s discharge is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. EDT. Watch the live NIH stream here.

The post Dallas Nurse declared Ebola free, set to be released from hospital appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

With a disease where you can’t touch, Ebola survivors lend a caring hand

         Jerry Brown tries to comfort Esther Tokpah, 11, before she was released from care on Sept. 24 in Monrovia, Liberia. She lost
         both parents to Ebola. Photo by Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Dr. Jerry Brown tries to comfort Esther Tokpah, 11, before she was released from care on Sept. 24 in Monrovia, Liberia. She lost both parents to Ebola. Photo by Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Dekontee Davis, 23, lives just outside of Liberia’s capital of Monrovia. She nearly died of Ebola, but is healthy and strong today.

Now, Davis is one of a team of Ebola survivors tapped by groups such as UNICEF to care for children in quarantine facilities in Monrovia.

Davis contracted Ebola from an aunt-in-law who ended up dying of the disease. “It was so terrible,” she recently recounted by phone. Days dragged by before Davis responded to treatment at last.

As an Ebola survivor, Davis is immune to getting the disease again and can safely tend to children whose parents have died from Ebola and are waiting out the 21-day incubation period to make sure they don’t have the virus as well.

UNICEF estimates that at least 3,700 children have had one or both parents die from Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone since the outbreaks began in March.

“The unique thing about this child-protection emergency is you can’t reach down and touch children,” said Sheldon Yett, UNICEF’s representative to Liberia. “Survivors are the ones who can provide that care, support and love, and human contact that others can’t.”

The survivor workers, who get paid a small stipend by the government, are eager to give something back, said Yett. “Many have gone through the living depths of god awfulness. So they’re thrilled to be alive and give back to the community.”

They also serve another purpose, as “a beacon of hope,” said Yett. Many people are afraid to call help lines or tell others they might have the disease because they think it’s a death sentence. “But the message from survivors is if you call the help line early enough and see a doctor, you’re much more likely to survive.”

The interim care centers are for children who don’t have parents who would otherwise be monitoring their symptoms, he said. Their temperature is taken regularly and if they show signs of the virus, they are taken to Ebola treatment centers.

The orphans who are cleared of the disease are often placed with extended family members, said Yett. “The good thing about Liberia is there is an extensive system of foster care, and of relatives taking care of other children.”

When Ebola survivors return to their communities, depending on where they live, they can be stigmatized by others who don’t fully understand that they are no longer contagious, said Yett.

Even children whose parents have died of Ebola and are sent to live with other relatives suffer the stigma, said Davis.

“That is why I decided to work with the children at the center — to love the children like my own,” she said. “When they come to the center, we will care for and love them because we know what they are going through.”

The post With a disease where you can’t touch, Ebola survivors lend a caring hand appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Doctor tests positive for Ebola in New York

A newly-reported Ebola patient, New York's first, is being treated at Bellevue Hospital in ManhattanPhoto by Flickr
         user Jeffrey Zeldman

A newly-reported Ebola patient, New York’s first, is being treated at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. Photo by Flickr user Jeffrey Zeldman

A doctor tested positive for Ebola in New York City after returning from a trip treating the disease in Guinea, the Associated Press reports.

Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old Doctors Without Borders physician and emergency room doctor, was brought to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan Thursday after reporting a 103-degree fever. Spencer is currently being treated in an isolation ward within the hospital.

Spencer is the first diagnosed Ebola patient for New York and the fourth confirmed case in the United States.

Bellevue Hospital released a statement Thursday afternoon after Spencer’s transfer, but before confirmation of his diagnosis:

Today, EMS HAZ TAC Units transferred to Bellevue Hospital a patient who presented a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms.

The patient is a health care worker who returned to the U.S. within the past 21 days from one of the three countries currently facing the outbreak of this virus.

The patient was transported by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). After consulting with the hospital and the CDC, DOHMH has decided to conduct a test for the Ebola virus because of this patient’s recent travel history, pattern of symptoms, and past work. DOHMH and HHC are also evaluating the patient for other causes of illness, as these symptoms can also be consistent with salmonella, malaria, or the stomach flu.

Preliminary test results are expected in the next 12 hours.

Bellevue Hospital is designated for the isolation, identification and treatment of potential Ebola patients by the City and State. New York City is taking all necessary precautions to ensure the health and safety of all New Yorkers.

As a further precaution, beginning today, the Health Department’s team of disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk. The Health Department staff has established protocols to identify, notify, and, if necessary, quarantine any contacts of Ebola cases.

The Health Department is also working closely with HHC leadership, Bellevue’s clinical team and the New York State Department of Health to ensure that all staff caring for the patient do so while following the utmost safety guidelines and protocols.

The chances of the average New Yorker contracting Ebola are extremely slim. Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person. You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola.

The post Doctor tests positive for Ebola in New York appeared first on PBS NewsHour.

Space-inspired safety gear, contamination-cleaning robots: How innovation could aid Ebola prevention

Soldiers from the U.S. Army 615th Engineer Company, 52nd Engineer Battalion put on one of three pairs
         of protective gloves during the final session of personal protective equipment training at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs

Watch Video | Listen to the Audio

JUDY WOODRUFF: The World Health Organization reported the Ebola outbreak is still racing well ahead of efforts to stop it. West Africa needs at least 4,000 more hospital beds and thousands more workers.

In addition, the first case in Mali was confirmed today. And while drugs and vaccines are still being developed, there’s a push to see if science can find new and different answers.

The president’s team had a meeting on that subject today.

Shortly afterward, our science correspondent, Miles O’Brien, sat down in the Briefing Room with the president’s top science adviser, John Holdren.

MILES O’BRIEN: Dr. Holdren, thank you so much for being with us.

JOHN HOLDREN, Director, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy: Happy to be here.

MILES O’BRIEN: Tell us a little bit — for people who are uninitiated, a little bit about this group and this meeting. What was the goal here today?

JOHN HOLDREN: Well, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology is a group of leaders from the scientific, engineering and biomedical communities from around the country who advise the president on a part-time basis, bringing perspectives from that wider science and technology community to bear on the policy issues the president has on his plate.

Of course, one of the big policy issues the president has on his plate now is the Ebola challenge. And the idea of this meeting was to call together the PCAST members, at the president’s request, to share their ideas with him, particularly about what capabilities, ideas and approaches from the private sector and the academic sector could be married to what the government is already doing on the Ebola challenge, which is a lot, in order to amplify and improve the effectiveness of the whole effort.

MILES O’BRIEN: Let’s talk a little bit about technology here.


MILES O’BRIEN: Are there technological solutions out there that are within the time frame of the current crisis that could make a dent?

And one of the things we think about, of course, is protecting our health care workers. Is there a better garment and a better procedure out there that your group is seeing?

JOHN HOLDREN: Well, in fact, we have been working inside the government on better personal protective equipment. They call it PPE.

We had a two-day workshop October 10 and 11 with over a hundred innovators, inventors, public health practitioners, doctors, working on how to improve these garments. Of course, part of the challenge with the garments we have is making sure you put them on and take them off in a way that is safe.

But a further problem with them is that they’re not air-conditioned. And a lot of this work is going out in very hot and humid environments. The workers can only stay in these garments for maybe 40 minutes to an hour. So, we’re working on garments that can be cooled. We also have assistance from NASA in this space.

This is very much inside the government, an interagency effort. NASA knows how to make protective suits that work in extreme environments. We’re tapping that expertise, along with others, to end up with better suits so that the health care workers can work longer and safer.

MILES O’BRIEN: So, if we can put a man on the moon, we can make them safe to deal with Ebola, can’t we?





MILES O’BRIEN: Let’s talk a little bit about another technological solution that I read about. I was a little bit skeptical about it, the idea that robots could somehow be employed to deal with this crisis in a way that would protect human beings. Is that realistic at this point?

JOHN HOLDREN: Well, in fact, we are having a workshop, my office, the Office of Science and Technology Policy, and a number of other partners on November 7 on potential uses of robots in the Ebola challenge.

Perhaps the best example of how a robot can be useful is cleaning up and decontaminating a room that has had Ebola patients in it, and has a lot of contaminated stuff in it. Obviously, if you could have a robot do that, and do it effectively, it would be safer than having a human being dealing with all of that contaminated waste and mess.

MILES O’BRIEN: But are robots really ready for that?

JOHN HOLDREN: I think they probably are.

I mean, you would be amazed at what robots can now do. You know, we have robots being developed that can fight fires and go into dangerous fire situations that you wouldn’t want to send a human fireman into. We can certainly — we can certainly make a robot that can decontaminate a room.


MILES O’BRIEN: I suspect that’s not within the time frame of the immediate crisis, however, right?

JOHN HOLDREN: I wouldn’t be so sure. I think we could probably adapt some existing robots to be useful in the current situation in a fairly short span of time.

MILES O’BRIEN: All right.

Let’s talk a little bit on the science side for a minute. I know this is not your particular area of expertise, so — and there are other people in the government who are…

JOHN HOLDREN: Thank you for recognizing.


MILES O’BRIEN: You are a physicist, and I get that. So, as — but there are a lot of people who have been working for some time on vaccines.


JOHN HOLDREN: Absolutely.

MILES O’BRIEN: But Ebola has been around for a long time, and we’re still waiting for a vaccine. Is it still quite some time before one might be available?

JOHN HOLDREN: Well, obviously, the current crisis has ramped up the interest and the effort in developing an Ebola vaccine. There is a promising vaccine in what they call phase one testing right now, looking to confirm the immunological response that one is looking for in a vaccine that would then, if it passes that test, go into what they call phase two and three testing, where they are looking for efficacy and the absence of any unmanageable side effects.

It is possible that we would have a vaccine by some time next year. These time scales are challenging. You have to do clinical trials to be sure that you are dealing with a vaccine that is going to do a lot of good and not a lot of harm on the side.

And with luck, we will have a vaccine in a matter of months, not in years. But then you have the challenges of ramping up the production. And one of the things that, with PCAST, the President’s Council of Advisers on Science and Technology, is looking at is, how can the government and the private sector work together to make sure that we have the production capacity that would be needed the moment we have a good vaccine?

MILES O’BRIEN: I would be remiss if we didn’t talk about the travel ban, much discussed, much misunderstood. The question is, you know, if you are trying to stop the spread of a disease, isn’t it prudent to stop the spread of the people who might be carrying the disease, and wouldn’t it be prudent to initiate a travel ban from people coming out of these countries?

JOHN HOLDREN: We think a travel ban is actually a bad idea, in that it would make the American public less safe and our challenge of dealing with this epidemic worse.

MILES O’BRIEN: How so less safe?

JOHN HOLDREN: And the reason is that, if you emplace a travel ban, first of all, you only catch a modest fraction of the people who are moving around.

We have, for example, about 150 people a day traveling directly to the United States from these countries, that is, not on a broken itinerary, where they stop for a week in London or Paris or Brussels in between, about 150 a day; 55 percent of those are American citizens who have a constitutional right to return to the United States.

Another 10 percent are green card holders who one is not sure their permanent residence. We’re not sure that it would be a great idea to keep American green card holders from returning. But the worst thing about a travel ban is that it would drive travel underground.

Right now, we are able to identify and monitor the people who are coming in from these countries. As you know from the newspaper, we now have them all funneling into five airports. Everybody who comes in from these countries is advised to monitor and report in every day on their temperature and whether they are showing any symptoms.

You put a travel ban on, you’re going to drive the travel underground. There are lots of routes by which people can get into this country without being noticed in the net you would have under a travel ban. And you will have far less control, far less insight, far less monitoring than you have now.

You would, in addition, of course, with a travel ban, make it much harder for health workers to come in and out, make it much harder for us to control the epidemic there. If we can’t control the epidemic there, the sources from which it could spread to the United States will propagate and, again, in that longer-term respect, we will also be worse off.

MILES O’BRIEN: To the extent that you are dealing with in this country an epidemic of fear more than an epidemic of disease, would announcing a travel ban, to the extent that it might allay some fears, would it be prudent in that respect?

JOHN HOLDREN: I think embracing a bad policy for reasons of optics is almost always a bad idea.

In fact, as a scientist, I would venture to say it is always a bad idea. If this is a bad policy, we shouldn’t do it. And we should use our ability to communicate with the American public and to educate them to persuade them why it is a bad idea. It is a bad idea because it would make us less safe, and not more safe.

MILES O’BRIEN: Dr. John Holdren, thank you so much for your time.

JOHN HOLDREN: My pleasure.

GWEN IFILL: So far, the more immediate Ebola threat domestically, at least, has been the fear and anxiety it has sparked. Online, we break down the impact this kind of stress can have on your health. That is on our Rundown.

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