Nearly all of the people who were quarantined by the city of Dallas because they had contact with a patient who died of Ebola have completed the 21 day incubation watch period and have been cleared of the disease, a city official said today.
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Dallas City Administrator Clay Jenkins said this morning that 43 of the 48 people who were isolated because of contact with Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan are now free to leave their homes. One more person will be cleared later today, he said.
Four health care workers who had contact with Duncan when he was admitted to a Dallas hospital will be cleared in several more days, he said.
"That is very good news," Jenkins said.
He added, "This is a defining moment for Dallas."
Dallas Mike Rawlings said another 120 people are still being monitored. The watch period for those individuals will continue as late as Nov. 7, he said.
Nearly 200 other people who were on one or both flights with Amber Vinson, a nurse who treated Duncan and later became ill with Ebola, are also being actively monitored by Texas health officials for symptoms.
Duncan's relatives and fiancée Louise Troh are among those who were released from quarantine today.
Jenkins said the 21-day milestone was important.
"After 21 days of being on this watch list, there is zero chance that any of those young men or Louise carry the Ebola virus," Jenkins said. "They need love and compassion and acceptance."
Jenkins urged people to accept those released from quarantine and compared peoples' fears of Ebola to a horse's fear of a snake. He said, however, sometimes a horse can be spooked by a shiny beer can.
Any fear of contracting Ebola from the people released from quarantine, he said, "is more a beer can than a snake."
He particularly pleaded for acceptance when eight children held out of school return to class. He noted that middle school students can be among "the most ferocious creatures on the planet."
Troh released a statement to ABC News Sunday expressing sadness in Duncan's Oct. 8 death.
"We continue to mourn his loss and grieve the circumstances that led to his death, just at the time we thought we were facing a happy future together," she said in the statement.
Duncan's family also recognized nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who contracted Ebola while administering care to Duncan.
"Our hearts also go out to the two brave women who have been infected by this terrible disease as they were trying to help him," the statement reads.
One of those nurses, Amber Vinson, is in stable condition at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, able to communicate with her parents. Her family released a statement to ABC News Sunday, stating that Vinson contacted health officials after Pham was diagnosed with Ebola, asking whether precautionary arrangements could be made for her return to Dallas.
"Amber was particularly concerned considering that Ms. Pham, being a capable nurse who followed the same Dallas county mandates, had become infected," the statement reads. "Officials assured Amber that her concerns were unfounded because her temperatures were within the appropriate measures and asymptomatic in all other areas."
Vinson asked whether she could reside at Texas Health Resources Presbyterian Hospital during her 21-day monitoring period, her family says.
"She was told that this was the first request of its kind, but that the agency would consider the option," the statement reads.
One day after landing in Dallas Oct. 13, Vinson reported a temperature of 100.3 degrees and admitted herself to the hospital.