Ebola Hits Home

The Kent City Council diverged from their normal schedule Wednesday night to address growing concerns in the community after learning that the second nurse to become infected with the ebola virus spent the weekend in Tallmadge with her parents who are Kent State employees.

Kent City Council commenced Wednesday October 15th after listening to a presentation by Health Commisioner Jeff Niestadt.
Kent City Council commenced Wednesday October 15th after listening to a presentation by Health Commisioner Jeff Niestadt.

Kent Health Commissioner Jeff Niestadt opened the meeting with a timeline of where Amber Vinson went during the weekend she spent with her mother and step-father Debra and Kelvin Berry. Neistadt presented a timeline of what Vinson did after her parents picked her up from Cleveland Hopkins Airport including a trip to Coming Attractions Bridal Salon in preparation for her wedding.

Niestadt also brought in Dr. Chris Woolverton, a professor at Kent State who studies infection disease, and Dr. Kirk Stiffler, Kent’s Medical Director to educate the board about the disease itself.

Niestadt reiterated what University Spokesperson Eric Mansfield said earlier that Vinson did not visit the Kent State campus at all while she was home. However, both her mother and step-father did attend the Kent State football game Saturday.

Vinson’s parents have administrative positions which have little contact with students. Debra Berry is the Senior Assistant to President Doctor Beverly Warren and her step-dad is the Director of Economic Development and Corporate Partnership. A third family member works for the university but has not been identified.

The university maintains that no one on campus was exposed to the virus because Vinson’s family did not show any symptoms when they were on campus Monday and Tuesday. The university has requested that the family members stay away from the university to self-monitor for 21 days.

However, this information has not stopped the community from worrying. After the presentation was given Councilman John Kuhar expressed his concerns openly at the meeting and said it is important for the community to have ample access to information about the virus.

“If I sit in a seat and their arm was on the arm rest, am I going to catch ebola?’ Kuhar explained. “You know at what point is that a yes and at what point is it a no?”

Kent City Manager Dave Ruller responded to Kuhar saying that Niestadt is continuously working to make sure citizens have access to information from health officials rather than deterring to social media where information is not as accurate.

“Those credentialed sources are out there, we’re going to make those links available.”

The city has provided links to many educational resources at www.kentpublichealth.org.

Kent State University is also providing up to date information to the public. Earlier today Kent State Health Services Director Dr. Angela DeJulius released a letter providing the facts of the story as well as guidelines for what to do if you may have come in contact with the virus.

For the latest information on Vinson go to KentWired.com. For information on the ebola virus visit the Center for Disease Control’s website at www.cdc.gov.