It’s not the scenario Thomas Duncan’s family ever thought would happen when he booked his flight from Liberia. Instead of living a life together in Dallas, they had his remains cremated after he spent days putting up a valiant fight against the Ebola virus. Officials also sent the contaminated items from his relatives’ apartment to Port Arthur, where a hazardous waste company will dispose of them.
With that tragic episode behind us, there are more pressing security issues on the minds of U.S. leaders. Texas congressman Michael McCaul is the point man, leading Friday’s House Homeland Security Committee hearing at DFW International Airport.
"We must learn from these missteps and ensure proper procedures are established and followed should another case arise in the United States," said Rep. McCaul during his opening comments at a congressional field hearing.
He was joined by some of his colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives. They are questioning whether our response and preparedness, at all levels, are enough -- or if we simply dropped the ball when it came to the country’s first case of Ebola.
"Not to be accusatory of anyone, but the message didn't get to the frontline. What are you going to do now, differently, to make sure that message gets to the front line? Because that's the critical part that was missed," claimed Rep. Michael Burgess, of the 26th District of Texas, as he pressed Centers for Disease Control & Prevention’s Dr. Toby Merlin on the agency’s initial response.
On the table being kicked around, officials are to enact more enhanced screenings at the nation’s airport. Some of which will be implemented in the next few days, and of course, possible travel bans are also an option.
While America figures out an Ebola game plan, U.S. troops have arrived in West Africa to carry out a form of germ warfare. They are facing a daunting task of trying to stem the spread of Ebola.
"You want to give people the resilience, the hope that they can fight this thing and see this through," said Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, who is leading the humanitarian mission of building hospitals and supporting medical teams in Liberia.
Meanwhile, here in North Texas, we are just counting down the days until health officials can clear Duncan’s close contact. According to the CDC, the incubation period for Ebola typically lasts for 21 days. Whew, what a relief that will be when that finally happens.