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CDC Confirms That Ebola Is In America

Brandon Moseley

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By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter

On Tuesday, September 30, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed that a man who was hospitalized on Friday in Dallas is the first case of Ebola conclusively diagnosed in the United States.

According to a statement by the CDC, Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus.

CDC spokesman Jason McDonald said health officials use two primary guidelines when deciding whether to test a person for the virus.  McDonald said, “The first and foremost determinant is have they traveled to the region (of West Africa).  The second is whether there’s been proximity to family, friends or others who’ve been exposed.”

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden said that they, “don’t believe there is any risk to anyone who was on the flight at that time.”

Der. Frieden said that the patient came to the U.S. from Liberia to visit family and arrived on Sept. 20. The patient sought care Friday and has been hospitalized in isolation since the weekend.

State health officials say no other cases are suspected at this time in Texas. The traveler from Liberia in Africa is the 13th person that the CDC has tested for the disease in the United States. The previous 12 tested negative.

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Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas officials said that the patient was placed, “in strict isolation” due to the symptoms and the fact that the traveler had come from West Africa where Ebola is raging in an epidemic on the largest scale in history.

According to the CDC in conjunction with the World Health Organization (WHO) as of September 29, 2014 there have been 6574 cases of suspected Ebola.  3626 of those cases have been confirmed by laboratory analysis.  3091 of the patients have died to this point.

In Guinea there have been 1074 suspected cases, 876 have been confirmed by lab work, and 648 people have died.  In Liberia there have been 3458 suspected cases. Only 914 have been confirmed by laboratory analysis, but 1830 of those people are now dead. In Nigeria there have been 20 suspect cases, 19 of those were confirmed in the lab, and 8 have died. The Nigerian cases are believed to all be traceable to a traveler from Liberia. In Senegal there has only been one confirmed case but no deaths. The Senegal patient is a man from Guinea. In Sierra Leone there have been 2021 possible cases, 1816 of those have been confirmed, and 605 people are dead.

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The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) has reported cases of Ebola, but the CDC reports that these cases are not related to the ongoing outbreak of Ebola in West Africa and are not included in the totals.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has contracted with Mapp Biopharmaceutical Inc. to develop and manufacture ZMapp. Mapp Biopharmaceutical will manufacture a small amount of the drug for early stage clinical safety studies and nonclinical studies.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) will begin initial human testing of an investigational vaccine to prevent EVD in early September and is working with a company to develop an antiviral drug to treat Ebola.

The U.S. Department of Defense has funded two companies which are developing drug therapies for Ebola and is working with another company to develop an Ebola vaccine.

This Ebola outbreak is the largest in history and the first Ebola epidemic the world has ever known —affecting multiple countries in West Africa.

Although there is presently an infected man in a hospital in Dallas the CDC believes that the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is still very low.

Presbyterian Hospital says that it is taking measures to keep its doctors, staff and patients safe.

Four American aid workers became infected while volunteering in West Africa. They have been treated in special isolation facilities in hospitals in Atlanta and Nebraska, and a U.S. doctor exposed to the virus in Sierra Leone is under observation in a similar facility at the National Institutes of Health.

There are only four such isolation units in the entire country but the CDC insists that any hospital can safely care for someone with Ebola.

The U.S. military now has forces on the ground in Liberia as part of an effort to fight the further spread of the deadly virus. Army Major General Darryl A. Williams, who commands the U.S. Army Africa Command, is now in Liberia with a team of U.S. military personnel that began arriving on Friday, September 19.

Pentagon Spokesman Admiral Kirby said that the U.S. military personnel will need in terms of support infrastructure to sustain operations for up to six months, “or however long U.S. military assistance is required” in West Africa.

Kirby said that  DoD has requested to reprogram two rounds of $500 million each in fiscal year 2014 overseas contingency funds to provide urgent humanitarian assistance to fight Ebola and is prepared to devote up to $1 billion to its Ebola response efforts.

Kirby said that there, “Is no intention right now that [deployed troops] will interact with patients or be in areas where they would necessarily come into contact with patients.” “They’re not doctors. They’re not nurses. They’re not trained for that and not equipped for that. That’s not part of the mission. They will be kept in locations where they can do their jobs without coming into contact with patients.”  The troops will be acting in support of health care workers.

Admiral Kirby said, “The disease itself is the threat. We understand that.  We get paid to deal in risk and to manage that and to mitigate it the best we can. It’s difficult in any military operation to eliminate it, and the men and women who sign up and serve in the military understand that when they do.”

Operation United Assistance is being led by the U.S. Agency for International Development, the State Department and the Liberian government not the U.S. Military.

Anticipating the threat, on Thursday, August 8 the Alabama Department of Public Health issued a message to primary care providers in Alabama to report any suspected Ebola cases and to collect specimens from any suspected patients for testing.

Ebola is characterized by sudden onset of fever and weakness that may be accompanied by other symptoms including headache, joint and muscle aches, vomiting, and diarrhea, stomach pain and lack of appetite.

The Ebola virus can be transmitted to others from: direct contact with the blood or secretions of an infected person or exposure to objects (such as needles) that have been contaminated with infected secretions.

The state of Alabama is warning residents to avoid nonessential travel to Liberia, Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.

If you must travel to places where Ebola is a danger, the state urges that you make sure to do the following: practice careful hygiene and avoid contact with blood and body fluids; do not handle items that may have come in contact with an infected person’s blood or body fluids; avoid funeral or burial rituals that require handling the body of someone who has died from Ebola; avoid contact with animals or with raw meat; avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities that are suitable for your needs; seek medical care immediately if you develop fever, headache, achiness, sore throat, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, rash or red eyes; limit your contact with other people when you travel to the doctor. Do not travel anywhere else; pay attention to your health after you return from your Africa excursion; monitor your health for 21 days if you were in an area with an Ebola outbreak, especially if you ignored any of the earlier rules; and tell the doctor about your recent travel and your symptoms before you go to the office or emergency room in order to help the doctor care for you and protect other people who may be in the office.

The Alabama Department of Public Health is warning health care workers that if they become exposed to people who might have the disease they should: wear protective clothing, including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection; practice proper infection control and sterilization measures; isolate Ebola patients from unprotected people; avoid direct contact with the bodies of people who have died from Ebola; and notify health officials if you have been exposed to someone with Ebola.  For more information, see “Infection Control for Viral Hemorrhagic Fevers in the African Health Care Setting.”

The State is urging healthcare providers that all persons with onset of fever within 21 days of high-risk exposure be tested for the African disease.

This report is based on information from the CDC, the U.S. Department of Defense, the Alabama Department of Public Health, and includes some information from recent reporting by both Fox News and the Associated Press.

Brandon Moseley is a senior reporter with eight and a half years at Alabama Political Reporter. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Facebook. Brandon is a native of Moody, Alabama, a graduate of Auburn University, and a seventh generation Alabamian.

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Education

Alabama’s First Class Pre-K program gets more national attention

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

Micah Danney

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The state’s First Class Pre-K program gives children advantages in math and reading that last into middle school, far longer than the gains studied in other high-quality pre-K programs, according to an article published in the International Journal of Child Care and Education Policy.

The article analyzed a recent study that found that students who attended the program were “statistically significantly more likely” to be proficient in both math and reading than those who did not.

While programs like Head Start and Tennessee’s pre-K program have been shown to lead to significant educational improvements when children enter kindergarten, those benefits appear to experience a “fadeout” within a year. 

The new research followed students through the 7th grade. Further research should examine the persistence of benefits through high school, according to the article, which was published by researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the Public Affairs Research Council of Alabama, ThinkData and the Alabama Department of Early Childhood Education.

The research “is reassuring and supports accountability for continued investments and expansion,” the article concluded.

The journal that featured the article is a publication of the National Institute of Early Education Research at Rutgers University.

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Congress

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne announces new chief of staff

Eddie Burkhalter

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U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne

Congressman Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, on Friday announced that Seth Morrow will serve as his chief of staff.

“As we enter the last half of 2020, my office remains busy assisting constituents and advancing our legislative priorities. I know Seth shares my focus on finishing out my term in Congress strong, and he is well prepared to move into the Chief of Staff role,” Byrne said in a statement. “My staff and I will continue working hard every day to fight for the people of Southwest Alabama and advance our conservative agenda.”

Morrow is a native of Guntersville and has worked for Byrne since June 2014, serving as deputy chief of staff and communications director. 

“I am grateful for this opportunity, and I’m committed to ensuring our office maintains our first class service to the people of Southwest Alabama. Congressman Byrne has always had the hardest working team on Capitol Hill, and I know we will keep that tradition going,” Morrow said in a statement.

Morrow replaces Chad Carlough, who has held the position of Byrne’s chief of staff since March 2017. 

“Chad has very ably led our Congressional team over the last few years, and I join the people of Southwest Alabama in thanking him for his dedicated service to our state and our country,” Byrne said. 

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Crime

Alabama Department of Corrections investigating inmate death

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

Eddie Burkhalter

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(STOCK PHOTO)

The Alabama Department of Corrections is investigating the death of an inmate at the Donaldson Correctional Facility.

Robert Earl Adams, 40, died on Aug. 5 and although no foul play is suspected, a department spokeswoman in a message to APR said the exact cause of death is pending an autopsy.

“While Adams’ exact cause of death is pending the results of a full autopsy, at the time of his passing inmate Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, was not under quarantine following direct exposure to an inmate or staff member who previously had tested positive, and was not in medical isolation as a result of a positive COVID-19 test,” said ADOC spokeswoman Samantha Rose in the message.

Because Adams was not exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, he had not been tested, Rose said.

An ADOC worker who contacted APR Friday morning about the death, who asked not to be identified for fear of repercussions from ADOC administrators, said it’s suspected that Adams may have overdosed after being given a cigarette laced with a drug.

Adams is at least the sixteenth state inmate to die this year from either homicide, suspected drug overdose or suicide. Additionally, fifteen inmates and two prison workers have died after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Alabama GOP chair: “We expect our elected officials to follow the law” after Dismukes arrest

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Alabama GOP chair Terry Lathan said on Twitter.

Brandon Moseley

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State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, has been arrested on the charge of felony theft.

Alabama Republican Party Chair Terry Lathan said Thursday that Alabamians expect their leaders to follow the law. Her comments came in response to news that an arrest warrant had been issued for State Rep. Will Dismukes, R-Prattville, on the charge of felony theft.

“Will Dismukes matter: We expect our elected officials, regardless of Party, to follow the laws of our state and nation,” Lathan said on Twitter. “No one is immune to these standards. It is very disappointing to hear of these allegations. This is now a legal matter and it must run its course.”

Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon, R-Monrovia, said Friday in a statement that Dismukes will get his day in court.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I have faith in the criminal justice process and trust that he will receive a full and fair hearing,” McCutcheon said. “Both Democrats and Republicans have been accused of similar crimes in the past, and we cannot tolerate such behavior whether the lawmaker involved has a D or an R beside their name.”

Dismukes has been charged by his former employer, a custom flooring company, of felony theft charges. Dismukes left that employer and started his own custom flooring company.

Dismukes, who is serving in his first term and is one of the youngest members of the Alabama Legislature, has been heavily criticized for his participation in a birthday party for Confederate Lt. General Nathan Bedford Forrest in Selma. Forrest was also the first grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.

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The party in Selma occurred the same week that Congressman John Lewis’s funeral events were happening in Selma. Dismukes resigned his position at Valley Baptist Church when the Southern Baptists threatened to disassociate the Prattville Church if they retained Dismukes. He has defiantly refused to step down from the Legislature, but if convicted of a felony, he would be automatically removed from office.

Both Democrats and Republicans have called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives over his being the chaplain of the Prattville Sons of Confederate Veterans and his Facebook post lauding Forrest. The investigation into the theft predates the controversies surrounding Dismukes’s glorification of the Confederacy and Forrest.

Republican State Sen. Clyde Chambliss, who also represents Prattville, has called on Dismukes to resign.

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“Since first being elected in 1996, I’ve had a policy of not publicly criticizing other elected officials, but at this time I am making an exception since Rep. Dismukes is MY state representative. He does not represent my views or the views of the vast majority of people of District 88,” Chambliss said. “The post is bad enough, the timing is even worse, but the real problem is that an elected official in 2020 would attend a celebration of the life of someone that led a group that terrorized and killed other human beings. He has had 24 hours to understand why people are so upset, but his interview on WSFA a few moments ago confirms that he is lacking in understanding and judgment — he should resign immediately.”

Alabama Democratic Party Chairman State Rep. Chris England, D-Tuscaloosa, has repeatedly called for Dismukes to resign from the Alabama House of Representatives.

The Alabama Democratic Party recently said in a statement, “Will Dismukes is morally unfit for office. Republicans and Democrats statewide seem to agree. Unfortunately, despite the mounting calls for his immediate resignation, Will intends to stay in office and seek re-election without penalty from the Republican Party.”

“While Alabama Republicans hope this will be a distant memory when Dismukes runs for re-election in 2022, we are not going to let him off the hook,” the ADP wrote. “The Alabama Democratic Party is going to leverage every tool we have to send Will packing when he comes up for re-election in two years.”

“In our darkest hours in life there is still light in Christ!” Dismukes wrote on social media Wednesday. “As the storm continues to blow with heavy force, there is yet a peace that this too shall pass. I guess sometimes we find out if we have built our house on sand or the solid rock of Christ. Psalm 23.”

When Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, was indicted on 21 charges of felony ethics violations, he did not resign and actually remained speaker until a jury of his peers in Lee County convicted him on 12 counts.

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