TIME ebola

CDC Changes Ebola Guidelines

CDC EBOLA TRAINING
Licensed clinician Hala Fawal practices drawing blood from a patient using a dummy on Monday, Oct. 6, 2014, in Anniston, Ala. Brynn Anderson—AP

Now recommending full-coverage for health care workers

From now on, health care workers treating Ebola patients must wear full-body coverage with no skin showing and must undergo significant training prior to treating patients, the CDC announced Monday.

“We may never know exactly how [Dallas infections happened], but the bottom line is the guidelines didn’t work for that hospital,” said Dr. Tom Frieden in a press conference announcing the update of the CDC’s recommendations for caring for Ebola patients and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Prior to the three Ebola infections in Dallas, including two health care workers, the CDC did not recommend full body coverage for Ebola, but instead recommended at least gloves, a gown, eye protection and a face mask. That has changed, in light of the two health care worker infections at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

The new guidelines have three additions:

1. Prior to working with Ebola patients, health care workers must be repeatedly trained and demonstrate competency in treating a patient with Ebola, especially putting on and taking off PPE. “Facilities need to ensure all healthcare providers practice numerous times to make sure they understand how to appropriately use the equipment,” the CDC said in a statement.

2. When wearing PPE, no skin can be exposed. The CDC is providing two options for the PPEs, since the University of Nebraska Medical Center and Emory University Hospital, which have both successfully treated Ebola patients, use different versions. Googles are no longer recommended. The recommendations for PPE are now the following:

  • Double gloves
  • Boot covers that are waterproof and go to at least mid-calf or leg covers
  • Single use fluid resistant or imperable gown that extends to at least mid-calf or coverall without intergraded hood.
  • Respirators, including either N95 respirators or powered air purifying respirator (PAPR)
  • Single-use, full-face shield that is disposable
  • Surgical hoods to ensure complete coverage of the head and neck
  • Apron that is waterproof and covers the torso to the level of the mid-calf should be used if Ebola patients have vomiting or diarrhea

3. Every step of putting on and taking off PPE must be supervised by a trained observer. There should also be designated areas for where PPE are taken on and off.

“It’s hard to care for Ebola, so every aspect… needs to be overseen,” said Frieden in the press conference, adding that hospitals should limit personnel in health care rooms and should limit procedures to only those that are essential.

The CDC is increasing health care worker training across the country as well as sending out training videos, but Frieden argues that there is no alternative for hands-on training, especially taking on and off PPEs. “We agree with the concern of health care workers,” said Frieden citing anxiety from health care workers nationwide that they felt unprepared for treating patients with Ebola. The new recommendations will be effective immediately, though the CDC does not have the regulatory authority to make hospitals follow the guidelines, Frieden said. The recommendations should be available online later Monday evening.

Earlier on Monday, a Dallas County Judge confirmed that 43 of 48 contacts of Thomas Eric Duncan were considered no longer at risk after the 21-day incubation period passed, and Nigeria was declared Ebola-free.

TIME ebola

The Psychology Behind Our Collective Ebola Freak-Out

Airlines and the CDC Oppose Ebola Flight Bans
A protester stands outside the White House asking President Barack Obama to ban flights in effort to stop Ebola on Oct. 17, 2014 in Washington, DC. Olivier Douliery—dpa/Corbis

The almost-zero probability of acquiring Ebola in the U.S. often doesn’t register at a time of mass fear. It’s human nature

In Hazlehurst, Miss., parents pulled their children out of middle school last week after learning that the principal had recently visited southern Africa.

At Syracuse University, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who had planned to speak about public health crises was banned from campus after working in Liberia.

An office building in Brecksville, Ohio closed where almost 1,000 people work over fears that an employee had been exposed to Ebola.

A high school in Oregon canceled a visit from nine students from Africa—even though none of them hailed from countries containing the deadly disease.

All over the U.S., fear of contracting Ebola has prompted a collective, nationwide freak-out. Schools have emptied; businesses have temporarily shuttered; Americans who have merely traveled to Africa are being blackballed.

As the Federal government works to contain the deadly disease’s spread under a newly appointed ‘Ebola czar,’ and as others remain quarantined, the actual number of confirmed cases in the U.S. can still be counted on one hand: three. And they’ve all centered around the case of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died Oct. 8 in a Dallas hospital after traveling to Liberia; two nurses who treated him are the only other CDC-confirmed cases in the U.S.

The almost-zero probability of acquiring something like Ebola, given the virus’s very real and terrifying symptoms, often doesn’t register at a time of mass paranoia. Rationality disappears; irrational inclinations take over. It’s human nature, and we’ve been acting this way basically since we found out there were mysterious things out there that could kill us.

“There are documented cases of people misunderstanding and fearing infectious diseases going back through history,” says Andrew Noymer, an associate professor of public health at the University of California Irvine. “Stigmatization is an old game.”

While there was widespread stigma surrounding diseases like the Black Death in Europe in the 1300s (which killed tens of millions) and more recently Tuberculosis in the U.S. (patients’ family members often couldn’t get life insurance policies, for example), our current overreaction seems more akin to collective responses in the last half of the 20th century to two other diseases: polio and HIV/AIDS.

Concern over polio in the 1950s led to widespread bans on children swimming in lakes and pools after it was discovered that they could catch the virus in the water. Thirty years later, the scare over HIV and AIDS led to many refusing to even get near those believed to have the disease. (Think of the hostile reaction from fellow players over Magic Johnson deciding to play in the 1992 NBA All-Star Game.)

Like the first cases of Polio and HIV/AIDS, Ebola is something novel in the U.S. It is uncommon, unknown, its foreign origins alone often leading to fearful reactions. The fatality rate for those who do contract it is incredibly high, and the often-gruesome symptoms—including bleeding from the eyes and possible bleeding from the ears, nose and rectum—provoke incredibly strong and often instinctual responses in attempts to avoid it or contain it.

“It hits all the risk perception hot buttons,” says University of Oregon psychology professor Paul Slovic.

Humans essentially respond to risk in two ways: either through gut feeling or longer gestating, more reflective decision-making based on information and analysis. Before the era of Big Data, or data at all, we had to use our gut. Does that look like it’s going to kill us? Then stay away. Is that person ill? Well, probably best to avoid them.

“We didn’t have science and analysis to guide us,” Slovic says. “We just went with our gut feelings, and we survived.”

But even though we know today that things like the flu will likely kill tens of thousands of people this year, or that heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S. every year, we’re more likely to spend time worrying about the infinitesimal chances that we’re going to contract a disease that has only affected a handful of people, thanks in part to its frightening outcomes.

“When the consequences are perceived as dreadful, probability goes out the window,” Slovic says. “Our feelings aren’t moderated by the fact that it’s unlikely.”

Slovic compares it to the threat from terrorism, something that is also unlikely to kill us yet its consequences lead to massive amounts of government resources and calls for continued vigilance from the American people.

“Statistics are human beings with the tears dried off,” he says. “We often tend to react much less to the big picture.”

And that overreaction is often counterproductive. Gene Beresin, a Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor, says that fear is causing unnecessary reactions, oftentimes by parents and school officials, and a social rejection of those who in no way could have caught Ebola.

“It’s totally ridiculous to close these schools,” Beresin says. “It’s very difficult to catch. People need to step back, calm down and look at the actual facts, because we do have the capacity to use our rationality to prevent hysterical reactions.”

TIME Crime

Hannah Graham Case Suspect Jesse Matthew Charged in 2005 Sex Attack

From left: FBI agents escort Jesse Matthew into the custody of the Charlottesville Police Department September 26, 2014 in Charlottesville, Virginia.
From left: FBI agents escort Jesse Matthew into the custody of the Charlottesville Police Department September 26, 2014 in Charlottesville, Virginia. Handout—Getty Images

DNA recovered during the Harrington investigation matches material from the 2005 assault

The suspect in Hannah Graham’s kidnapping will be charged with a 2005 sexual assault — a crime that has been linked by DNA to the slaying of yet another woman in Virginia. Jesse Matthew is charged with attempted capital murder and abduction in an indictment obtained by NBC Washington. Prosecutors have scheduled a 4:30 p.m. briefing to announce the charges.

Matthew, 32, was previously charged with abduction with the intent to defile in connection with the Sept. 13 disappearance of Graham, who was last seen in Charlottesville. Police are investigating whether human remains found over the weekend are those of the University of Virginia…

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME Law

Supreme Court to Decide Whether Felons Can Sell Their Guns

Case will determine how much "ownership" felons have over their guns

The Supreme Court said Monday that they would decide the case of a convicted felon who attempted to sell his guns or transfer ownership to his wife after he was forced to relinquish them under federal law.

Tony Henderson is a former U.S. Border Patrol Agent who was convicted of felony drug offenses and served six months in prison in 2007. When he was arrested, he gave the FBI his 19 firearms, because felons are not allowed to own weapons. He later attempted to transfer ownership of the guns to his wife or sell them to a third party, which prompted a legal debate as to whether convicted felons relinquish all ownership rights when they turn over their weapons.

A federal judge refused Henderson’s request to transfer ownership, as did an appeals court, which led him to take the case to the Supreme court.

Henderson’s attorney told Reuters that if he doesn’t get the appeal overturned, it would “effectively strip gun owners of their entire ownership interest in significant, lawful household assets following a conviction for an unrelated offense.”

U.S. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli, who will argue the government’s case in front of the Supreme Court, says that allowing a felon to sell or transfer ownership of their guns presents a “significant risk” that he or she could still have access to them.

[Reuters]

TIME housing

Berkeley May Ban ‘No-Pet’ Restrictions on Apartments

Avocado
A dog named Avocado looks over a cliff overlooking the fog-covered Pacific Ocean while on a hike on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014, in San Francisco. Marcio Jose Sanchez — ASSOCIATED PRESS

The all-pets-welcome rule, now in the conceptual stage, is raising landlords' hackle

According to Craigslist, there are about 14,867 apartments and houses available for rent in the San Francisco Bay Area as of late October. Limit those to apartments that are cat- and dog-friendly, and the rental stock plummets to less than one-third that number. But residents in Berkeley may soon find themselves less limited, if a new proposal to outlaw pet restrictions passes muster.

Berkeley City Councilman Jesse Arreguin is expected on Tuesday to officially ask the city’s housing and animal care commissions to explore the effects of banning “no pet” policies—laying groundwork for more specific legislation later on.

Arreguin’s office told TIME that while details are still in flux, the proposal could require all landlords to accept tenants’ pet dogs and cats, as well as “small house pets” ranging from rabbits to reptiles. The caveat for owners is that their animal must be able to be “reasonably accommodated” and must be well-behaved, not disturbing other renters. Owners could also become obligated to purchase pet insurance, and take care of any property damage caused by the pets, even if it exceeds their security deposit.

Arreguin’s chief of staff, Anthony Sanchez, says that the measure was partly born out of confusion over “emotional support animal” rules. In addition to state law allowing animals that help with disabilities such as blindness, renters can also currently get a note from their doctor saying they need Fluffy or Fido to help with conditions like anxiety. Sanchez says this has led to concerns from landlords about whether the renters truly have a legal basis for keeping their pet, as well as conflicts among tenants in buildings that generally do not allow pets.

“We noticed more and more tenants and landlords having disputes,” Sanchez says. “This seems like a way to address all those issues.” In other words, Arreguin believes that simply allowing all pets, but tightening regulation of how people care for their animals within a rental situation, would eliminate the confusion.

Many local landlords say this dog won’t hunt. Some have complained about potential property damage, like animals scratching up hardwood floors or leaving lingering smells. The caveat that animals be “reasonably accommodated,” Sanchez says, is meant to give landlords some leeway here—like saying that a Great Dane cannot be reasonably kept in a studio apartment, or that one renter cannot reasonably keep 12 cats nextdoor to a renter who is deathly allergic.

Arreguin’s office says such a law could help keep animals off the streets and out of shelters, given that some owners give up their pets when they move into a new apartment that won’t allow animals. Sanchez says that with the new law, it might be feasible to require pet owners to register, spay, tag and vaccinate their furry loved ones before a landlord allows them to occupy a unit.

After hearing the proposal at Tuesday’s meeting, Berkeley’s city commissioners could take three or four months to return with a well-educated report on how to best propose the law. Until then, the city’s pets will be left nervously tapping their paws.

TIME Crime

Police: Indiana Suspect Hints at More Killings

Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend.
Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend. Texas Department of Criminal Justice/AP

(GARY, Ind.) — Police investigating the slayings of seven northwestern Indiana women whose bodies were found over the weekend said Monday it could be the work of a serial killer, and that the suspect has told them his victims might go back 20 years.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said at a news conference that the suspect is 43-year-old Darren Vann of nearby Gary, Indiana, who was convicted of a sex offense in Texas in 2009. His confession to the slaying of a woman in Hammond led police to the grisly discovery of six other bodies in Gary, including three in on the same block, authorities said.

He said the Gary slayings appear to have happened recently, though Vann indicated there could be earlier victims. He said police are not actively looking for more bodies and have no indication that any murders have occurred in another state. He said Vann is cooperating with investigators in the hope of making a deal with prosecutors.

“It could go back as far as 20 years, based on some statements we have, but that has yet to be corroborated,” Doughty said.

Charges were expected to be filed later Monday in the death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy, whose body was found about 9:30 p.m. Friday at a Motel 6 in Hammond, Doughty said. The Lake County coroner’s office said she was strangled.

Doughty said she was involved in prostitution and had arranged to meet Vann at the motel through a Chicago-area website. Police were called by someone who attempted to reach Hardy and “was provided suspicious text responses that she believed to be from the suspect while he was still inside the motel room.”

Police said they took Vann into custody Saturday afternoon after obtaining a search warrant for a home and vehicle in Gary.

Vann allegedly confessed to killing Hardy, then told investigators where more bodies could be found in abandoned homes in Gary, a deteriorating former steel town about 30 miles southeast of Chicago, police said.

Police found the body of 35-year-old Anith Jones of Merrillville, Indiana, on Saturday night in an abandoned home. She had been missing since Oct. 8.

Five more bodies were found on Sunday in other homes, said Doughty, who identified two of the women as Gary residents Teairra Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36. Police have not determined the identities of the other three women, including two whose bodies were found on the same block where Jones’ body was found on Saturday.

Hardy’s mother, Lori Townsend, said police told her that Vann asked that she perform a certain sex act, and “when she said ‘no’ and put up a fight, he snapped and strangled her,” she said, speaking from her home in Colorado. “This man is sick.”

Hardy graduated from high school in late 2013 and planned to go on to college to study music, Townsend said.

“She was full of life. She lit up a room with her smile and her beauty,” she said. “And she had a voice like a songbird.”

Gary, once a thriving steel town of 178,000 where thousands worked in the mills, has been struggling for decades. Its population has shrunk to just over 78,000 and its poverty rate hovers around 40 percent. Thousands of homes are abandoned, many with weeds choking broken sidewalks — often on the same streets where other homes are tidy and well-kept.

One of the houses where police found a body was overgrown with trees in the front and there was trash strewn in the back of what looked like a falling down garage or shed.

On Monday, people in Gary tried to make sense of the tragedy.

“That’s devastating. That’s sick,” said Jay Jackson, 25, a health care worker visiting a woman a few houses from where one of the bodies was found. “All we can do is pray for the city and hope for recovery.”

TIME Crime

Indiana Authorities ID Suspected Serial Killer in Custody

Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend.
Darren Vann is a suspect in the slayings of seven women whose bodies were found in northwestern Indiana over the weekend. Texas Department of Criminal Justice/AP

Seven bodies found over the weekend

Authorities on Monday identified the suspect held in connection with seven bodies that were found across northwest Indiana over the weekend.

Hammond Police Chief John Doughty said in a press conference on Monday that Darren Vann, 43, of Gary, was detained after officers discovered the strangled body of a 19-year-old woman in a motel on Friday evening. Vann, who Doughty said was a convicted sex offender in Texas, had solicited Afrika Hardy in a “pay-for-service prostitution scheme” through a website.

“He admitted his involvement in the Hammond incident and had expressed an interest in notifying police of other criminal incidents he was involved with,” Doughty said, specifically about six more female victims in Gary.

One of those victims was Anith Jones, 35, who had been missing since Oct. 8 and whose body was discovered Saturday night. Five more bodies were discovered on Sunday, according to NBC Chicago, with two victims identified as Teairra Batey, 28, and Christine Williams, 36.

Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. posted on Facebook before the press conference that the suspect was an “admitted serial killer” and “convicted sexual offender,” who “admitted to a couple of homicides in Hammond back in 94 or 95.”

TIME Education

Planned Parenthood Thinks It Found a Way to Stop Middle Schoolers from Having Sex

It's all about sex-ed that moves outside the classroom

Planned Parenthood is touting a new study that found its middle school sex education program successfully delays sex for both boys and girls by the end of 8th grade by encouraging more talk about the subject between students and their parents outside the classroom.

The study, conducted by the Wellesley Centers for Women in partnership with Planned Parenthood, evaluated the Get Real program in 24 schools in the Boston area over the course of three years. The curriculum spans sixth through eighth grade and has students pair lessons in school with take-home assignments designed to start dialogues between them and their parents or caregivers. Of the 24 schools in the study, half used Get Real and half used their usual sexual education curriculum; 16% fewer boys and 15% fewer girls had sex in the schools using the Get Real curriculum. The study was published in the Journal of School Health.

“Awkward as this might be for some, Get Real makes it a little less awkward and easier to have these conversations,” said Lisa Grace, a parent in a Massachusetts school district using Get Real.

Along with highlighting parents as the primary sexual educators for their children, Get Real also focuses on relationship skills as an avenue for sexual health.

“If kids are able to negotiate relationships, they will be better able to negotiate sexual relationships,” said Jennifer Slonaker, a vice president of education and training for the Planned Parenthood League of Massachusetts.

Get Real is currently taught in 150 schools in Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island and Texas. Planned Parenthood representatives hope the program’s success can be replicated on a larger national scale, even in more conservative states.

“The curriculum does not espouse values,” said Grace, the mother in Massachusetts. “It makes it very clear that the parents should continue to be the primary sexual educators for their kids. So that reassured a lot of folks.”

“This is a program for older elementary and early middle school students that helps young people to delay having sex,” said Leslie Kantor, a vice president for education at Planned Parenthood. “So even states that stress abstinence… might be very interested in this type of program since it actually gets to these abstinence kind of outcomes.”

 

TIME Crime

Virginia Woman First to Be Charged Under New Revenge Porn Law

She and the victim were allegedly fighting over a boyfriend

A Virginia woman who allegedly posted a naked photograph of her ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend has become the first person to be charged under the state’s revenge porn law.

Waynesboro police say Rachel Lynn Craig, 28, admitted she took the image of the 22-year old victim off her ex-boyfriend’s phone and posted it to Facebook. The victim says she took the picture herself and sent it to her boyfriend, and that his ex (the accused) stole the photo and posted it on Facebook. Craig is being charged with one misdemeanor count of “maliciously disseminating a videographic or still image of another person in totally or partially nude state with the intent to coerce, harass or intimidate,” which is what the state of Virginia calls “revenge porn.”

MORE: A New Strategy for Prosecuting Revenge Porn

Virginia passed the new law earlier this year, and it went into effect on July 1. The law stipulates that anybody who disseminates nude or semi-nude content with intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate faces a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Virginia is one of many states to enact revenge porn laws as unauthorized distribution of photos becomes more common. Since 2013, California, New York, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, have also enacted laws to fight revenge porn.

No court date is set in Craig’s case and she hasn’t commented publicly.

TIME Courts

Justices Will Decide Privacy Case on Hotel Records

(WASHINGTON) — The Supreme Court agreed Monday to referee a dispute over police access to hotels’ guest information without first getting a search warrant.

The justices said they will hear an appeal by the city of Los Angeles of a lower court ruling that struck down an ordinance that requires hotel operators to open their guest registries at the demand of police.

The federal appeals court in San Francisco divided 7-4 in ruling that the ordinance violates the privacy rights of the hotels, but not their guests.

Courts in other parts of the country have upheld similar laws.

Cities argue that the ordinances help fight prostitution and illegal gambling, aid in the pursuit of fugitives and even could be a tool to track suspects following a terrorist attack.

Los Angeles has said the ordinance makes prostitutes and drug dealers less likely to use hotels if they know that the facilities must collect information about guests and make them available to police on a moment’s notice.

Judge Paul Watford wrote for the appeals court that the records are a hotel’s private property and “the hotel has the right to exclude others from prying into the contents of its records.”

In dissent, Judge Richard Clifton said that courts previously have ruled that hotel guests have no expectation of privacy in records of their names and room numbers. “A guest’s information is even less personal to the hotel than it is to the guest,” Clifton said.

The argument in the case known as Los Angeles v. Patel, 13-1175, will take place in the winter, with a decision expected by late June.

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