UGA postpones visit from Liberian journalist
ATHENS — Ebola concerns have prompted the University of Georgia to postpone a guest lecture by a Liberian journalist.
Officials said in a release that Washington Post reporter Todd Frankel will replace Wade C.L. Williams as a guest speaker during a lecture on the crisis at the university on Thursday.
Williams is editor of the news site FrontPage Africa and is a New Narratives fellow, which is a project to support African journalists. Frankel spent 10 days in Sierra Leone and returned to the U.S. on Sept. 1, UGA officials said in a statement.
Williams' visit was postponed because she's within a 21-day incubation period for the virus "and we didn't feel like that was safe for our students," UGA spokeswoman Sarah Freeman said. "It's certainly a hope that we will have her in the future," she said.
Ebola is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluid, such as getting an infected person's blood or vomit into the eyes or through a cut in the skin, not through the air, experts have said. And people infected with Ebola aren't contagious until they start showing symptoms, such as fever, body aches or stomach pain, research shows.
Syracuse University also recently rescinded an invitation for Pulitzer Prize-winning Washington Post photojournalist Michel DuCille to speak at a workshop because he had been in Liberia covering the Ebola crisis. There, school officials consulted with county health officials, who supported their decision to cancel his visit. DuCille said he returned more than 21 days ago and is symptom free.
UGA officials said that Frankel and three other writers are also scheduled to speak about what journalistic courage means during a symposium at the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication.
— The Associated Press
ATLANTA — Gov. Nathan Deal announced Sunday that he is creating a special team to assess Georgia's preparedness for the Ebola crisis.
The response team will make necessary recommendations to minimize any potential impact of the disease in Georgia.
"Rest assured, Georgia is taking the threat of the Ebola virus seriously," Deal said in a statement. "By combining the expertise of the health and research communities with our state agencies, Georgia will be uniquely positioned to combat the risks of Ebola should the need arise."
Members of the group will include representatives of Emory University Hospital, which has treated four people with Ebola, including a Dallas nurse recently infected who arrived at the facility last week.
A Georgia Health News article last week reported that the state's public health agency has boosted its outreach efforts to Georgia health workers and hospitals on dealing with the potential of Ebola infection here.
The effort — involving disseminating information and protocols about handling a potential Ebola case — came amid rising national anxiety about the viral disease. It recently killed a man in Texas, and two nurses who had treated him (including the one now at Emory) were later diagnosed with the virus.
Eight Atlanta hospitals have expressed a willingness to treat a potential Ebola patient here, Dr. Patrick O'Neal, the director of health protection for the Department of Public Health, told Georgia Health News. He also said he believes it's inevitable that a case of Ebola will be diagnosed in Georgia.
The governor's Ebola response team will also include representatives of the Georgia Emergency Management Agency; the Department of Community Health; the Georgia National Guard; and University System of Georgia infectious disease experts.
The team will also have officials with Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the city of Atlanta, and members of the nursing, rural hospital, EMT and education communities.
Ebola has been known in West Africa for decades. But this year, it has become epidemic in parts of that region, killing thousands of people. And for the first time, it has also occurred outside Africa, though to an extremely limited extent. The patient who died in Texas was a recent arrival from the West African nation of Liberia.
"We are taking every necessary precaution to alleviate fear within our communities and make certain Georgia stands prepared," Deal said in a statement.
Individuals on the response team will be named in the executive order Monday, the governor's news release said. The team will convene this week and immediately begin issuing recommendations.
Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is one of five in the nation that have begun screening incoming passengers from West Africa for signs of Ebola.