The second Dallas health-care worker who contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan has been transported to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. You can catch a glimpse of what the transfer from Dallas looked like in the video below.
In the recording from Wednesday, an ambulance is on a runway and four people wearing full protective gear unload the patient's stretcher, then roll it toward the plane. But one man in regular clothes stands nearby, peering into the ambulance.
At one point, the man is standing next to a person wearing a hazmat suit. The man doesn't ever touch the patient, but he gets awfully close to her, creating a striking image that prompted some to take note, particularly amid so much Ebola fear.
Ebola is contracted through direct contact with the bodily fluids (blood, urine, vomit, etc.) of a symptomatic patient. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's official guidance for transporting Ebola patients calls for EMS personnel to wear the recommended personal protective equipment (PPE). That includes gloves, gowns, eye protection and face masks, which is what four people in the video appear to be wearing. The patient also is in protective gear.
But the fifth person on the tarmac is not wearing PPE. Airline officials told the Dallas NBC affiliate on Thursday that the man, a medical safety coordinator, was supposed to be there sans body suit because the gear can interfere with vision and hearing.
"His role is to oversee the process of transport including on the tarmac," Phoenix Air Vice President Randy Davis told the station. "Part of our protocol is to have one person not in a bio-hazard suit."
The man was trained on keeping a "safe distance" from patients and he was ready to put on gear if needed, Davis added. (The man also got onto the plane to Atlanta, the NBC station reported.)
A CDC spokeswoman said in an e-mail to The Washington Post that the agency "doesn't handle the transfer of patients."
This isn't the first time we've seen such a scene. People stood around in regular clothes as Ashoka Mukpo, the cameraman who contracted Ebola while working for NBC News in West Africa, was being led to an ambulance after landing in Nebraska:
And recall how Dallas officials sent a message of calm while panic grew after Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola. Those officials walked right into the apartment where Duncan stayed, even while cleaning crews covered in hazmat suits milled about the area.
Although two people have contracted Ebola in the United States after Duncan's diagnosis, both are health-care workers directly involved with caring for the Liberian man at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. The EMS workers who transported Duncan to the hospital when he became ill haven't been diagnosed with Ebola, although they remain within the 21-day incubation period.
[This post has been updated.]