(Bloomberg) — Four men wearing white jumpsuits and gloves began decontaminating the apartment of the second Dallas nurse to test positive for Ebola this afternoon, setting out 15 blue barrels for her belongings and other materials.
The decontamination crew arrived amid the din of helicopters and an air of concern surrounding The Village, a four-block community where the nurse lives, consisting of 16 apartment complexes, tennis courts and pools. The noise of news aircraft and the sight of police in the neighborhood before sunrise startled residents.
“The first thing I thought about was Ebola,” said James Coltharp, as he walked his dogs in his neighborhood in the heart of the city, home to a second Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas worker who tested positive for the Ebola virus. “I’m just concerned that she worked out in the gym, or walked on the same path, or if she went in the pool,” he said. “Where am I going that she’s been?” (Photo: Dallas Police patrol the entrance to The Village Bend East apartments where a second healthcare worker tested positive for Ebola in Dallas. AP Photo/Brandon Wade)
Coltharp is asking a question that others may face in coming days as 75 other workers being monitored because they cared for Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., wait for any signs of symptoms of the disease, or an all clear. Nina Pham, a nurse who cared for Duncan, was the first person to contract the disease in the U.S., which led to a similar scene outside her apartment in a nearby neighborhood Oct. 12.
“It may get worse before it gets better,” said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, at a press conference this morning. “The only way we’re going to beat this is moment by moment, person by person, detail by detail.”
Officials said they will immediately begin reconstructing who the latest worker had contact with, as they have with the previous two patients diagnosed. Rawlings said the latest worker lived alone and had no pets.
The 75 remaining workers are monitoring themselves for possible symptoms.
“The system is working,” said Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s top elected official. “When any of the workers being monitored have any symptoms from headache to temperature, they’re put in isolation and monitored.”