Gov. Cuomo: Ebola Patient Went Bowling, Took Cab, Rode Subway, But No Reason to 'Worry'

Susan Jones | October 24, 2014 | 8:49am EDT
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Police officers stand outside the home of Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, Thursday, Oct. 23, 2014, in New York. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

(CNSNews.com) - The physician admitted to New York's Bellvue Hospital with Ebola on Wednesday "obviously reached the conclusion that he wasn't symptomatic up to that point," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo told CNN Friday morning.

On Wednesday -- the day before he contacted health authorities -- 33-year-old Dr. Craig Spencer went bowling and took a cab ride. He also rode on three subway lines in recent days.

Gov. Cuomo said he would take a subway ride on Friday in an attempt to calm the public: "There's no reason for New Yorkers to panic or feel that they have anything to worry about on the subway system," he said.



"We have to separate sometimes...the irrational fear, if you will, from the reality. And we have a dose of irrational fear. Now being in New York, a little anxiety can keep you safe, right, and it's not a bad thing. But undue anxiety is unproductive, and there's no reason for undue anxiety in this situation."

(Cuomo later told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that subway ridership on Friday morning was "normal.")

Timeline

According to New York City Health Commissioner Mary Travis Bassett, Spencer "completed his work in Guinea on the 12 of October and left Guinea on the 14th of October via Europe (Brussels), where he arrived in United States at JFK Airport on the 17th of October."

"[T]hroughout his journey home to the United States, he was well with no symptoms," Bassett said. "When he arrived in United States, he was also well with no symptoms. And he, being a medical doctor undertook to check his temperature twice a day, which he has done since he departed from Guinea."

On Oct. 21, "he began feeling somewhat tired," Bassett said, but "the actual symptoms" -- including a fever -- developed sometime between 10 and 11 a.m. Thursday morning.

"We know that during the time that the patient was home, before he became sick, that he did leave his apartment. He -- We are aware that he went on a three-mile jog, a sign that he was feeling quite well. And he also took the subway system."

Bassett said Spencer rode on the A, the L and the number 1 subway lines.

"He was not symptomatic in -- at that time. He had no fever," she said. "And so he did not have a stage of disease that creates a risk of contagiousness on the subway. We consider that it is extremely unlikely, the probability being close to nil, that there would be any problem related to his taking the subway system."

Later, Bassett told reporters that Spencer took the A and L trains to The Gutter bowling alley in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. "He was feeling well at that time and except for his feeling of fatigue," she said.

Also on Wednesday, Spencer went to the High Line (an elevated park in lower Manhattan) and he may have gone to a restaurant along the way. "So we're just -- we're going to be getting more information about this. We -- he's fully cooperating with us. We have his Metro card, and we are going to have the chance to talk with him...," Bassett said.

The fiance and two friends are being quarantined -- and Bassett said one of those three is also in the hospital.

The fourth contact, the driver of the Uber car with whom the patient had no direct physical contact, "is considered not to be at risk," Bassett said.

The bowling alley has been closed as a precaution, and Spencer's Harlem apartment is cordoned off, the Associated Press reported.

Asked about the "mixed message" given to the public, Cuomo told CNN on Friday it happens because, "On one hand, you want to do everything you can to be safe; on the other hand, it may not be absolutely necessary, and you're erring on the side of caution."

Cuomo said New York hospitals have been doing Ebola preparation drills for weeks: "So we have the CDC on site, basically monitoring and helping. But we were equipped to handle this situation."

 

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