One day after after the first Ebola death on American soil, Mayor Bill de Blasio held a meeting with health and emergency officials to discuss how the city is preparing for the possibility of the virus.
The mayor, who said numerous times there has not been an Ebola case in the city, said health officials have a “clear protocol” to follow in case a person needs to be treated for symptoms.
“The important point here is we have to understand Ebola for what it is and not make it something mysterious and mystified,” de Blasio said. “The way to contain Ebola is the same way we contain measles – very straightforward concepts. Diagnose, isolate, and treat. It’s a straightforward protocol.”
If Ebola does make it to New York, de Blasio said doctors and other emergency workers are trained to spot the symptoms and isolate the patient. All major city hospitals have an isolation space, the mayor said, and a city lab can do “immediate testing” in-house to determine if a person does have the virus.
De Blasio said New York is “vigilant by nature,” and said that multiple agencies being ready for a challenge is nothing new.
“It’s what we do as New Yorkers. It’s particularly what this city government does and what all our partner agencies do. We’ve faced terrorism. We’ve faced natural disasters. We now face the possibility of being affected by a pandemic. But the fact is, all of those other moments prepared us to handle whatever is thrown at us,” de Blasio said.
Numerous city agencies, including the health department, sanitation, housing authority, MTA and homeland security, were planning on Thursday to prepare for “different scenarios” and devise an appropriate response, de Blasio said.
Even though state and federal organizations are monitoring the virus “24/7”, de Blasio said it’s up to New Yorkers to know if they are at risk — if they have recently traveled to a West African country with an outbreak, or if they knowingly came into close contact with someone who has.
The mayor said anyone who thinks they might have been exposed to Ebola should go to the hospital or call 911 immediately. De Blasio stressed that questions on immigration status will not be asked.