DALLAS (AP) — The first Ebola patient diagnosed in the United States told relatives that he notified health care workers the first time he went to the hospital that he was visiting the U.S. from Liberia, the man's sister said Wednesday.
Mai Wureh told The Associated Press that her brother, Thomas Eric Duncan, went to a Dallas emergency room on Friday and was sent home with antibiotics. He returned two days later after his condition worsened and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Dr. Mark Lester confirmed Wednesday that a nurse asked Duncan on his first visit whether he had been in an area affected by the Ebola outbreak that has killed thousands in West Africa, but that "information was not fully communicated throughout the whole team."
A nine-member group of federal health officials was tracking anyone who had close contact with the man.
The team from the Centers for Disease Control was in Dallas to work with local and state health agencies to ensure that those people are watched every day for 21 days.
"If anyone develops fever, we'll immediately isolate them to stop the chain of transmission," Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control, said in an interview.
Duncan has been kept in isolation at the hospital since Sunday. He was listed in serious but stable condition.
Ebola is believed to have sickened more than 6,500 people in West Africa, and more than 3,000 deaths have been linked to the disease, according to the World Health Organization.
Officials are monitoring 12 to 18 people who may have been exposed to the man, including three members of the ambulance crew that transported him to the hospital and five schoolchildren.
Some of the people are members of his family, but not all, Dallas city spokeswoman Sana Syed said.
The ambulance crew tested negative for the virus and was restricted to home while their conditions are observed. The children, who attend four separate schools, apparently had contact with the man over the weekend and then returned to classes this week. But school officials have said they showed no symptoms.
Ebola symptoms can include fever, muscle pain, vomiting and bleeding, and can appear as long as 21 days after exposure to the virus. The disease is not contagious until symptoms begin, and it takes close contact with bodily fluids to spread.
Officials said there are no other suspected cases in Texas, but the diagnosis sent chills through the area's West African community, whose leaders urged caution to prevent spreading the virus.
The man left Liberia on Sept. 19, arrived the next day to visit relatives and started feeling ill four or five days later, Frieden said.
Stanley Gaye, president of the Liberian Community Association of Dallas-Fort Worth, said the 10,000-strong Liberian population in North Texas is skeptical of the CDC's assurances because Ebola has ravaged their country.
"We've been telling people to try to stay away from social gatherings," Gaye said Tuesday at a community meeting.
The CDC has not advised that people avoid large gatherings in this country.
The association's vice president warned against alarm in the community.
"We don't want to get a panic going," said vice president Roseline Sayon. "We embrace those people who are coming forward. Don't let the stigma keep you from getting tested."
Frieden said he did not believe anyone on the same flights as the patient was at risk.
The man traveled from the Liberian capital of Monrovia to Brussels and then to Dallas, according to a spokeswoman for the Belgium health ministry, Vinciane Charlier.
"Ebola doesn't spread before someone gets sick, and he didn't get sick until four days after he got off the airplane," Frieden said.
Four American aid workers who became infected in West Africa have been flown back to the U.S. for treatment after they became sick. They were treated in special isolation facilities at hospitals in Atlanta and Nebraska. Three have recovered.
A U.S. doctor exposed to the virus in Sierra Leone is under observation in a similar facility at the National Institutes of Health.
The U.S. has only four such isolation units, but Frieden said there was no need to move the latest patient because virtually any hospital can provide the proper care and infection control.
Blood tests by Texas health officials and the CDC separately confirmed his Ebola diagnosis Tuesday. State health officials described the patient as seriously ill.
Passengers leaving Liberia pass through rigorous screening, the country's airport authority said Wednesday. But those checks are no guarantee that an infected person won't get through and airport officials would be unlikely to stop someone not showing symptoms, according to Binyah Kesselly, chairman of the Liberia Airport Authority's board of directors.
CDC officials are helping staff at Monrovia's airport, where passengers are screened for signs of infection, including fever, and asked about their travel history. Plastic buckets filled with chlorinated water for hand-washing are present throughout the airport.
Liberia is one of the three hardest-hit countries in the epidemic, along with Sierra Leone and Guinea.
Neergaard reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Nomaan Merchant in Dallas and Emily Schmall in Fort Worth; Jonathan Paye-Layleh in Monrovia, Liberia; Francis Kokutse in Accra, Ghana, and Matt Small of AP Radio, contributed to this report.
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An Oregon man has been sentenced to 30 years in prison for plotting to bomb a crowded holiday event in Portland's town square in 2010.
Mohamed Mohamud was sentenced Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Portland in the plot that actually was an FBI sting.
Agents posing as al-Qaida recruiters supplied the fake car bomb that the former Oregon State University student tried to set off at an annual Christmas tree-lighting ceremony.
Agents targeted Mohamud after the then-teenager wrote for an online jihadi magazine.
Mohamud's lawyers contend he was the victim of entrapment, a defense rejected at a trial last year.
The sentencing was pushed back after the government disclosed that warrantless overseas wiretaps helped make its case. The defense unsuccessfully sought a new trial.
He was arrested Nov. 26, 2010, after pressing a keypad button on a cellphone that he believed would trigger a bomb where thousands of people gathered for the annual lighting of a Christmas tree.
In reality, nobody was in danger. The truck bomb was a fake supplied by undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaida recruiters. The undercover agents made friends with Mohamud — a teenager at the time — after learning he had written for an online jihadi magazine and exchanged emails with accused terrorists.
Jurors rejected Mohamud's entrapment defense at his January 2013 trial. But his lawyers continue to point out that the former Oregon State University student had no plans to attack until after he met the undercover agents.
Mohamud's sentencing was originally scheduled for 2013 but was pushed back a year after the government's disclosure that warrantless overseas wiretaps helped make its case. The defense unsuccessfully sought a new trial.
Lead prosecutor Ethan Knight wrote in his sentencing memorandum that Mohamud never wavered in his willingness to kill thousands that November day.
"The evidence at trial established that defendant's murderous conduct was the culmination of a mindset that began to develop years before the commencement of the government's investigation," Knight wrote in the August 2013 filing. "Over that period, defendant became radicalized to such a startling degree that he was willing to commit chilling acts of violence in the name of Islamic extremism."
In a reply submitted two weeks ago, Chief Deputy Public Defender Stephen Sady described the recommended sentence as "draconian." He noted that Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif only got an 18-year sentence last year when he was sentenced for plotting to attack a Seattle military processing station with machine guns and grenades.
Unlike Abdul-Latif, Mohamud has shown remorse and did not have a prior criminal background, Sady wrote.
"The defense of entrapment does not posit that everything is the government's fault and that he is guiltless," Sady wrote in the Sept. 19 reply. "On the contrary, he recognizes that the government had legitimate concerns regarding his writings and activities."
WASHINGTON (AP) — Same-sex couples in 11 more states would win the right to marry, but the issue would remain unsettled nationwide if the Supreme Court were to surprise everyone and decline to take up gay marriage right now.
A decision by the justices to reject calls from all quarters to take up same-sex marriage would lead to gay and lesbian unions in 30 states and the District of Columbia, up from 19 states.
Couples in Indiana, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin could begin getting married almost immediately. Rulings in their favor have been put on hold while the Supreme Court considers their cases.
And if the high court leaves those rulings in place, same-sex couples almost certainly would win the right to marry in six other states in short order because those states — Colorado, Kansas, North Carolina, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming — would be bound by the same appeals court decisions.
But rejection of pending appeals by the Supreme Court would leave untouched the laws in the other 20 states that still enforce same-sex marriage bans.
"This affects people's lives. Literally, people are dying before they can get married," said James Esseks, a gay rights expert with the American Civil Liberties Union.
That is one reason that almost everyone who follows the issue for a living or otherwise thinks the Supreme Court will step in and decide gay marriage cases this term. The cases were on the agenda when the justices met in private Monday to decide new cases to hear this term. The court could announce a decision as early as this week.
Both sides in the dispute also say the justices have an obligation to settle an issue of such national importance, not abdicate that responsibility to lower court judges. Opting out of hearing the cases would leave those lower court rulings in place.
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg appeared to be addressing that concern when she said in July that the court would not duck the issue, as it did for years with bans on interracial marriage.
Yet more recently, at a forum in Minnesota, Ginsburg suggested the court might refrain from taking any action unless an appeals court were to uphold a same-sex marriage ban, which would create a split among appeals courts that typically triggers Supreme Court review.
Two other appeals courts, in Cincinnati and San Francisco, could issue decisions any time in same-sex marriage cases. Judges in the Cincinnati-based 6th Circuit who are weighing pro-gay marriage rulings in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, appeared more likely to rule in favor of state bans than did the 9th Circuit judges in San Francisco who are considering Idaho and Nevada restrictions on marriage.
If it doesn't take one of the cases immediately, the court could still set them for argument in time for a decision in June 2015. It takes just four of the nine justices to vote to hear a case, but it takes a majority of at least five for an eventual ruling.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A federal appeals court panel is ordering parts of North Carolina's strict new voting law set aside for next month's elections because it is likely to disenfranchise black voters.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals split 2-1 on Wednesday. The court says same-day registration should be allowed and ballots cast outside a voter's assigned precinct should be considered. It says plaintiffs failed to show irreparable harm if the number of early voting days are reduced by a week.
The voter ID part of the law is not set to take effect until 2016.
The Republican-backed law was challenged by civil rights groups and the U.S. Justice Department. It is considered one of the toughest in the nation.
North Carolina has one of the most closely watched U.S. Senate races.
COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — A 911 caller who reported a man carrying a gun in an Ohio Wal-Mart told state investigators he heard an officer repeatedly say "put it down" just before police shot the man, killing him, according to a summary of the interview released by the state.
The 24-year-old caller, Ronald Ritchie, was interviewed the day after the Aug. 5 shooting at the Beavercreek store in suburban Dayton that killed John Crawford III. The 22-year-old Crawford had been talking on a cellphone and carrying an air rifle he picked up from a shelf as he walked through the store.
Ritchie's account, released Tuesday, provides some support for written statements made by the two officers involved, who said Crawford appeared to be carrying a black assault rifle, didn't respond to repeated commands to drop it and turned toward them aggressively.
Crawford's relatives and their attorneys have questioned that version of events, contending he was "shot on sight" with no chance to respond and that the shooting was unreasonable.
Store surveillance video captured the shooting from a distance but doesn't include audio and therefore doesn't document any comments by the officers or the time between such comments and when Crawford drops to the floor.
Ritchie had called 911 to report a man was waving a gun and pointing it at people. In the next-day interview, Ritchie said the man actually didn't point the gun at people but swung it around and flashed the muzzle at children.
Ritchie told investigators the gun looked like an assault rifle he personally owned, and he believed it was a real weapon because he didn't see an orange tip indicating it was an air rifle. He said he heard police say "Put it down, put it down," and he said it appeared the man "checked them" or pulled the gun toward the officers. He said the officer's shots came about two seconds after the police commands.
"If you're dumb enough to point any kind of weapon at a police officer you get what's coming to you," Ritchie said, according to the interview summary.
Crawford's relatives and their attorneys say he posed no threat and have disputed Ritchie's description of Crawford's actions.
A grand jury concluded the shooting was justified, and the U.S. Department of Justice is reviewing the case.
One aspect the family wants reviewed is whether race was a factor. Crawford was black, and the officers are white.