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Portman: Ohio Constituent Faced 108 Minute Wait on Ebola Hotline (Updated)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Updated 5:49 p.m. | Sen. Rob Portman says it took an Ohio constituent almost two hours to get through to the Ebola hotline at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  

The CDC and Frontier Airlines on Wednesday called on all passengers who may have traveled with the new patient to contact the CDC.  

"On the morning of Oct. 14, the second healthcare worker reported to the hospital with a low-grade fever and was isolated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirms that the second healthcare worker who tested positive last night for Ebola traveled by air Oct. 13, the day before she reported symptoms," the CDC announced Wednesday. "Because of the proximity in time between the evening flight and first report of illness the following morning, CDC is reaching out to passengers who flew on Frontier Airlines flight 1143 Cleveland to Dallas/Fort Worth Oct. 13."  

Portman, an Ohio Republican, tweeted that it was "unacceptable" for a constituent to wait 108 minutes.

   

Ohio's senators had weighed in on the Ebola outbreak earlier Wednesday, after it was revealed the newest U.S. patient flew to Texas from a Cleveland airport.  

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden that the administration should take new steps to protect travelers at the Ohio airport.  

"Following today's announcement that the most recent individual diagnosed with Ebola in the United States was in Northeast Ohio this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must work rapidly to address this situation both in Texas and Ohio," Brown wrote. "I urge the CDC to respond quickly, and take clear steps to help track and eliminate any risk to Ohioans."  

Portman said in a statement that he had already discussed the situation with local and federal officials.  

"In situations like this, it is important to remain calm while also staying vigilant and aware of potential symptoms. I have spoken to Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson and other officials regarding the situation in Cleveland. I have also communicated with the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Sylvia Burwell, to ensure the federal government is providing appropriate CDC and other assistance," Portman said. "My office stands ready to assist with any federal needs and to try to address concerns Ohio constituents have regarding the situation. I will remain in very close touch regarding this issue with federal, state and local authorities."  

Portman has made other requests of the administration for details of the Ebola response, including sending a letter to the Office of Management and Budget seeking budgetary details.  

President Barack Obama scratched a planned campaign-related trip to New Jersey and Connecticut , with the White House citing the Ebola situation. He made a statement to reporters following a meeting later in the day.  

Text of Brown's new letter appears below:

Dear Secretary Burwell and Director Frieden: Following today’s announcement that the most recent individual diagnosed with Ebola in the United States was in Northeast Ohio this week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must work rapidly to address this situation both in Texas and Ohio. I urge the CDC to respond quickly, and take clear steps to help track and eliminate any risk to Ohioans. These steps include: 1. Identifying and locating all persons the individual had contact with while in Northeast Ohio to track, monitor, and – if necessary – isolate anyone who shows any sign of symptoms; 2. Communicating with Frontier Airlines and the Cleveland Hopkins International Airport (CLE) to locate any passengers that may have had contact with the individual, notify them, and work with their state and local public health agencies to ensure they are tracked and monitored for any potential symptoms; 3. Contacting the appropriate state and local public health officials in Ohio to ensure that they are informed about the latest protocols and educating all health care professionals so that they are aware of the most effective and up-to-date agency-approved protocol for personal monitoring and travel before, during, and after contact with an infected individual; 4. Partnering with the Ohio Hospital Association and Ohio Department of Health to ensure that all Ohio hospitals and health care facilities, particularly those in Northeast Ohio, are aware of the most up-to-date protocol for handling Ebola symptoms and have immediate access to state of the art protective equipment in the unlikely event that Ohioans show symptoms of the disease; 5. Ensuring that the Ohio Department of Health, health care professionals, and the general public are aware of the Ebola resources developed by the CDC; 6. Working with the Ohio Department of Health to conduct initial Ebola testing for any individuals who show symptoms of the disease, with swift follow-up confirmation testing done by the CDC; and 7. Keeping a team of infection experts ready to go to Ohio to help should a case occur. I, and my congressional colleagues, stand ready to support your work protecting the public health.
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