The Obama administration and Centers for Disease Control officials need to be square with the American public about how two Dallas healthcare workers treating a West African Ebola patient contracted the virus, Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson said Wednesday on "America’s Forum" on Newsmax TV.
"We still don't understand if there was a breakdown in protocols," Johnson said. "What was it? How are these nurses gowned up? How serious —
obviously they were taking it seriously, but we just simply don't know how they were infected and that's information we really ought to know."
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"The CDC has been offering some rather bland assurances and as a result, even before we got this first case, they're always saying, 'Oh, we're totally prepared for this' when obviously we weren't totally prepared for it."
Dr. Tom Frieden, head of the CDC, has acknowledged that the government wasn't aggressive enough in managing Ebola and containing the virus as it spread from an infected patient to a nurse at a Dallas hospital.
"We could've sent a more robust hospital infection control team and been more hands-on with the hospital from day one about exactly how this should be managed," he said Tuesday.
Johnson, a Republican, blames the administration for not issuing travel bans to and from West Africa. Thomas Duncan, the man who transmitted the disease to the Dallas nurses who cared for him, had just arrived from Liberia. It’s better to be safe than sorry, Johnson said.
"I don't think we should be letting people in or if we do, we should certainly isolate them for 21 to 28 days and not let them roam around the general public like [Duncan] was allowed to do," Johnson said.
A second Dallas hospital worker who provided care for the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has tested positive for the disease, pointing to lapses beyond how one individual may have donned and removed personal protective garb.
It's not clear how the second worker contracted the virus. Authorities declined to say what position she holds at the hospital or the type of care she provided to Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola after coming to the U.S. from Liberia. Duncan died Oct. 8.
Officials have said they also don't know how the first health worker, a nurse, became infected. But the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said "an additional health care worker testing positive for Ebola is a serious concern."
"What happened there [in Dallas], regardless of the reason, is not acceptable. It shouldn't have happened," Anthony Fauci, director of the Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases of NIH, said on MSNBC Wednesday.
The government and public health officials need to immediately review procedures and protocols about how to handle treating patients and "be completely open with the American public about how this happened," Johnson said on Newsmax TV.
"It makes no sense to me. That's something we should do immediately. From my standpoint, we do need to do everything we can to contain the outbreak in West Africa, but the best way to prevent it from coming here is let's make sure that people that are in West Africa don't come into America or let's face it, we're going to have to have people going back and forth in terms of the support and healthcare workers."
He predicts the disease will have a devastating economic and political ripple effect on West African nations.
"Let's make sure it doesn't spread because we're already seeing the economic impact even with a couple cases here in America, that's why it's important to take a strong and resolute action which is what we're not doing here in America yet."
The Associated Press contributed to this report
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