DALLAS — A mattress, soiled linens, a suitcase and clothing all touched by Thomas Duncan, the man who contracted Ebola, are finally being removed from the Texas apartment where they have been left for days.
Hazardous materials crews began removing the items in large waste drums Friday afternoon in northeast Dallas as the family Duncan had traveled from Liberia to visit waited in another room.
"They are in good spirits," said Dallas County Fire Marshall Robert Delossantos.
Health officials are closely monitoring the people living in that apartment for signs that they might have contracted Ebola while Duncan was sick in the home. So far, they have not reported any symptoms, Dallas officials said.
Four people — Louise Troh, the woman Duncan was visiting; her son, Timothy Wayne; and two men in their 20s, Oliver Smallwood and Jeffrey Cole — have been ordered to remain in the apartment at least until Oct. 19, after the 21-day incubation period for the virus has passed.
As soon as Friday, they will be moved from that apartment and placed in another secure location for the duration of the incubation period, Dallas officials said.
The infected items will be removed from the apartment and transported to a secure storage location before they are destroyed, the fire marshal said.
“It is not so much a concern that we need to get her out of here because it’s dangerous or anything like that,” said Sana Syed, the public information officer for the City of Dallas. Troh, she said, "is scared. People in this complex are scared.”
Duncan stayed at the Ivy Apartments complex, which is part of a broader community known as Vickery — a diverse melting pot of immigrants, ethnic groups and languages.
Neighbors have peered from their windows and looked on from their porches as throngs of media surrounded the gated community since Tuesday.
Fears abound in this Dallas community.
“There are people here who are going to work today and they are being turned away because employers don’t want to be near people who live in the area around where patient zero resided,” Syed said.
One mother, Apolonea Catalan, said she was too scared to let her daughter go to school Thursday at Sam Tasby Middle School, which is just around the corner from the Ivy Apartments. She reluctantly relented Friday.
Five children are believed to have had contact with Duncan while he was symptomatic and contagious. Two attended Tasby Middle School.
Mai Do, a neighbor who lives across the street from the Ivy apartments, said she is filled with fear for her own family’s safety — and worry for the health of the family across the street.
Do’s two sons, a 13-year-old and 8-year-old, attend schools with children who had contact with Duncan.
“I’m scared but my husband told me don’t worry about it,” she said. “I would like to keep them at home at this time.”
She instructed them to not share food, or touch their classmates until this is all over.
"I pray every day for Thomas Duncan, for the children, and everyone,” she added.