Hours after a second health care worker was diagnosed with Ebola, U.S. President Barack Obama canceled campaign stops in New Jersey and Connecticut Wednesday to meet with his Cabinet on the growing Ebola outbreak. Obama administration officials are expected during the meeting to coordinate the government's response to Ebola after news broke that the second health care worker flew on a commercial flight from Ohio to Texas this week.
Obama had planned to speak at a fundraiser for Senate Democrats in Union, New Jersey, and then headline a rally for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, according to the Associated Press. White House aide Dan Pfeiffer tweeted Wednesday: "Later this afternoon, POTUS will convene a meeting at the White House of cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response."
A 26-year-old nurse named Amber Joy Vinson was identified Wednesday morning as the second U.S. health care worker to be infected with Ebola after treating Thomas Eric Duncan for the viral disease at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Another 26-year-old nurse, Nina Pham, was identified Monday as the first nurse to contract the virus in the U.S.
Vinson flew from Cleveland to Dallas on a Frontier Airlines flight on Monday prior to showing symptoms. She wasn't sick on the flight, according to the flight crew. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has sent out a request to all 132 passengers on that flight to contact the agency.
Duncan was treated at the Dallas hospital after traveling from Liberia, one of three West African countries hit hardest by the worst Ebola outbreak in history. He died on Oct. 8. A nurses union said Texas Health Presbyterian didn't do enough to protect its workers from the virus.
Ebola patients aren't contagious until they start showing symptoms, which include vomiting, diarrhea and fever. The Ebola virus has a 21-day incubation period, meaning a patient may not show symptoms of the disease for up to three weeks after being infected. Health workers must isolate potential victims for at least that long to ensure they aren't infected.