Fearing Ebola, some US communities take dramatic steps

October 19, 2014 6:52 am
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A passenger arrives wearing a face mask at Los Angeles International Airport as fear of the Ebola virus continues to grow in the US on October 17, 2014/AFP
A passenger arrives wearing a face mask at Los Angeles International Airport as fear of the Ebola virus continues to grow in the US on October 17, 2014/AFP
WASHINGTON, United States, Oct 19 – As President Barack Obama on Saturday urged against “hysteria or fear” over Ebola, US media had reports of communities taking seemingly overzealous measures against the disease.

A teacher from Maine was placed on three-weeks paid leave because she’d travelled to Texas for a conference — where she’d stayed in a hotel 10 miles (16 kilometers) from the hospital in which the first case of the virus was diagnosed in the United States.

A Pulitzer-prize-winning photographer was uninvited from speaking at a journalism school, because he’d gone to Ebola hotspot Liberia, even though he’d been back 21 days and was showing no symptoms.

And a group of Mississippi parents pulled their kids from school because the principal recently traveled to Africa – though he’d been to a completely different part of the continent from where the Ebola epidemic is wreaking havoc.

In each case, parents or officials involved say they were acting out of an abundance of caution.

In the Maine case, Matt Dexter, who has a child at Strong Elementary School in the coastal city of Portland, told the Portland Press Herald that many parents were concerned the school had sent a teacher to Dallas without telling parents.

“I’m really tired of people telling everyone, on the news, starting at the national level, ‘zero risk, low risk,'” Dexter told the newspaper.

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