120 people now being monitored for Ebola in Texas – CBS News

DALLAS – About 120 people are now being monitored for possible infection with Ebola because they may have had contact with one of the three people in Dallas who had the disease, Texas health officials said Monday.

Officials said 43 of 48 people on an original watch list have passed the 21-day maximum incubation period for the viral disease and are now in the clear.

But others who cared for a Liberian man who died Oct. 8 at a Dallas hospital remain at risk, along with two nurses he infected and their close contacts. That brings the total to 120 people now being monitored, with their wait period ending Nov. 7, said Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. He said the number may fluctuate.

Clay Jenkins, the top administrator for Dallas County, said he was unaware that other health officials had allowed one of the nurses, Amber Vinson, onto an airplane the day before she was diagnosed. Vinson had contacted the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Dallas County, and she was given permission to fly home to Dallas after visiting family in Ohio.

“It was a mistake” for Vinson to have flown “and we apologize,” Jenkins said during a news conference Monday morning.

Still, health officials said they were breathing a little easier Monday as the monitoring period ended for many, and after a cruise ship scare ended with the boat returning to port and a lab worker on board testing negative for the virus.

Among those no longer in isolation are the family and friends who were hosting Thomas Eric Duncan before he was diagnosed with Ebola. The Liberian man – who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. – died from the disease Oct. 8 at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

“I want to breathe, I want to really grieve, I want privacy with my family,” Louise Troh, whose family had been hosting Duncan before he became ill, told The Associated Press.

The incubation period also has passed for many health workers who encountered Duncan when he went to the Dallas hospital for the first time, on Sept. 25. Duncan was sent home, but then returned by ambulance and was admitted on Sept. 28. Two nurses who treated him during that second visit – Vinson and Nina Pham – are now hospitalized with Ebola.

On Sunday, a Carnival Cruise Lines ship returned to Galveston, Texas, from a seven-day trip marred by worries over a health worker on board who was being monitored for Ebola. The lab supervisor had handled a specimen from Duncan and isolated herself on the ship as a precaution, though she later tested negative for Ebola. About 4,000 passengers on the cruise had to miss a stop in Cozumel, Mexico, where the boat was not allowed to dock because of the scare.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said those caring for Duncan were vulnerable because some of their skin was exposed.

The CDC is working on revisions to safety protocols. Earlier ones, Fauci said, were based on a World Health Organization model for care in remote places, often outdoors, and without intensive training for health workers.

“So there were parts about that protocol that left vulnerability, parts of the skin that were open,” Fauci said.

Health officials had previously allowed hospitals some flexibility to use available covering when dealing with suspected Ebola patients. The new guidelines are expected to set firmer standards: calling for full-body suits and hoods that protect worker’s necks; setting rigorous rules for removal of equipment and disinfection of hands; and requiring a “site manager” to supervise the putting on and taking off of equipment.

The guidelines also are expected to require a “buddy system” in which workers check each other as they come in and go out, according to an official who was familiar with the guidelines but not authorized to discuss them before their release.

The Pentagon announced Sunday that Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had ordered the formation of a 30-person military support team to assist civilian medical professionals in the U.S. to treat Ebola. The team won’t be sent overseas, and will “be called upon domestically only if deemed prudent by our public health professionals,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement.

While experts agree that current research will not result in an Ebola “cure” for this outbreak, scientists and startups around the globe are racing to find a marketable treatment.

© 2014 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Indiana police ID suspect in murder of at least 7 women – Fox News

Police in northwest Indiana identified the suspected serial killer believed to have murdered seven women over an unknown time period, and warned at a news conference that the body count could rise.

The man accused of killing a woman Friday at a Hammond, Ind., Motel 6, and then leading authorities to a string of dead bodies dumped in abandoned homes in nearby Gary, was identified as Darren Deon Vann, 43, of Gary. Officials said he was convicted of sexual assault in Texas in 2009 and sentenced to five years in prison. He was released on July 5, 2013, the Times of Northwest Indiana reported. The mayor of Hammond said Vann admitted to two murders in Indiana in the 1990s, but details involving those were unavailable. So far, he has only been charged with the murder of Afrika Hardy, 19, who police said was a prostitute found strangled in the motel Friday evening. But authorities said more charges are certain, and more bodies are possible.

“It is possible the investigation could lead to more victims,” said Hammond Police Chief John Doughty, who said Vann admitted that his crimes in Indiana go back two decades.

The flurry of grisly discoveries began Friday, when Hammond police responded to a call of an unresponsive person at a Motel 6 and found the body of Hardy. Hardy’s pimp gave police information that led them to execute a search warrant on a home in Gary, where they took Vann into custody, Doughty said.

Vann, who was not identified until Monday’s news conference, later confessed, police said, saying he “messed up” by killing a woman in Hammond. Vann told police where to find three other dead women, all in Gary, Doughty said. Acting on his information, police discovered the body of Anith Jones, 35, of Merrillville, late Saturday in an abandoned home in Gary. Her family had reported her missing on Oct. 8. It was not clear how long ago the other victims had been killed.

“The suspect Hammond arrested for the Motel 6 murder is an admitted serial killer.”

- Hammond, Ind., Mayor Thomas McDermott

Jones’ sister, Yolanda Nowell, previously described her as “very street savvy” and said she had moved 10 years ago from Chicago to Indiana, where she operated a stand at a nearby flea market.

Police found the next body around 1 a.m. Sunday and said the victim was Teairra Batey, 28, of Gary. Authorities found a third body less than an hour later, according to the Tribune.

Late Sunday, the coroner’s office confirmed the discovery of three additional Jane Does, all of which were found in Gary. The city is 10 miles from Hammond. Doughty identified one of those victims as Christine Williams, 36, of Gary.

All seven deaths have been ruled homicides, according to the coroner’s office. Most of the bodies were found in or around abandoned or fire-damaged homes in blighted neighborhoods, according to reports. The house near where Jones was found was described as being located in a thriving neighborhood, although it is unkempt, with overgrown grass and weeds.

A spokesman for the coroner’s office said Monday that Hardy and Jones died of ligature strangulation. The corner was conducting autopsies on the other bodies. “We’re actually doing the forensic work, carefully identifying with clothing or any tattoos,” the spokesman said.

Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. called Vann a “serial killer” in a Facebook post Sunday afternoon and said he has “admitted to a couple of homicides in Hammond,” that date back to 1994 or 1995. He also said in his posts that the man is a convicted sex offender. Reports said the man was convicted of sex crimes in Texas. 

“The suspect Hammond arrested for the Motel 6 murder is an admitted serial killer,” McDermott wrote. “The suspect gave up the location of a body in Gary that was confirmed found where he said it would be.”

In a statement, Gary Police Cpl. Gabrielle King sought to ease apprehension in the gritty city of 78,000, noting that the man is in custody and that Gary and Hammond police are working together to bring charges.

“We would like to dispel the rumor that there is a serial killer on the loose,” the statement read. “There is a 43-year-old man in the custody of The Hammond Police Department, who led officials to 3 deceased female victims who has claimed responsibility for their demise. Gary Police are closely working with Hammond Police to assist in covering every area of the investigation needed to pursue charges as expeditiously as possible. “

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Gary Chief Larry McKinley in a joint statement asked for calm and patience.

“We commend the officers for their work thus far and ask the citizens to remain calm and patient as our teams work this investigation and do what they do best,” their statement said.

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Dallas Relieved as 43 Cleared of Ebola Infection Risk – Bloomberg

With the first 43 people who had contact with deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan now cleared from close monitoring, Dallas-area officials are “breathing a lot easier” for the first time in weeks.

“It’s a good day,” added Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County’s highest-ranking elected official, who announced the end of the monitoring today. “This I believe is a defining moment for Dallas. The world is watching.”

The 43 released are mostly those who possibly had direct contact with Duncan, suggesting that an important bar has been overcome. Still, 120 people remain on the watch list in Texas, and officials said the final all-clear for the state won’t arrive until Nov. 7. Ebola can lay dormant in a person for 21 days before causing symptoms.

Among those still being monitored are four health-care workers and a community member who officials expect to be able to release in the next few days, as well as anyone exposed to two nurses who were also part of Duncan’s medical team. The nurses, Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, are the only ones who have definitely caught the virus.

Related:

Pham is being treated at a National Institutes of Health Clinical Center in Maryland, and Vinson is at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta. Pham is in good condition, while Vinson has requested her medical details remain private.




Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

First responders wear full biohazard suits while responding to the report of a woman with Ebola-like symptoms at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit White Rock Station October 18, 2014 in Dallas, Texas. Close

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Photographer: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

First responders wear full biohazard suits while responding to the report of a woman with Ebola-like symptoms at the Dallas Area Rapid Transit White Rock Station October 18, 2014 in Dallas, Texas.

‘Mostly Moms’

Many of the medical workers involved in Duncan’s care are staying at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas to avoid potentially infecting their families, according to Jenkins, who described the group as “mostly moms” going through ’’the toughest time in their lives, without the benefit of seeing their children.’’

The health-care workers are “heroes,” he said, “tremendous people going through a tremendous ordeal and they need our help and support.”

The Ebola Scourge

Texas isn’t the only state where people are being watched for exposure to an Ebola cases. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Ohio Department of Health are also monitoring people in that state who had contact with Vinson, when she made a controversial flight to and from that state from the Dallas area.

Ohio officials have reached 153 people who may have had some contact with Vinson on one of the flights or at an Akron bridal shop that she visited on Oct. 11, according to a release from the health department.

‘Higher Risk’

A group of passengers that sat within three feet of Vinson when she returned back to Dallas from Cleveland on Frontier Airlines are considered to be at a “higher risk of exposure,” the Texas health department said in a statement today. That group has been directed to stay home.

The announcement by Dallas officials came on a day in which the World Health Organization declared Nigeria, which had managed 20 Ebola cases and seen eight deaths, free of the disease. Meanwhile, the fight against the virus continues in West Africa, where the disease has killed more than 4,500 people, mostly in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea.

The developments suggest Ebola can be controlled in nations with stronger health systems than the three West African countries being ravaged by the disease. Nigeria is the continent’s most populous country, so controlling Ebola there will make it easier to stop the spread.

‘Can Be Contained’

“The outbreak in Nigeria has been defeated,” Rui Vaz, the WHO’s country representative for Nigeria, told reporters today in Abuja, the capital. “This is a spectacular success story that shows the world that Ebola can be contained.”

In Spain, meanwhile, nursing assistant Teresa Romero tested negative for Ebola, suggesting she may have been cured. She will have a second test to confirm the result, the government committee set up to handle Spain’s efforts to contain the disease said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Romero was diagnosed with Ebola on Oct. 6 after helping to care for two Spanish missionaries who contracted the illness in Africa and died at Carlos III hospital in Madrid.

To contact the reporters on this story: John Lauerman in Boston at jlauerman@bloomberg.net; Harry R. Weber in Dallas at hweber14@bloomberg.net; Kelly Gilblom in New York at kgilblom@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

Press spacebar to pause and continue. Press esc to stop.

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US Military Airdrops Weapons, Medical Supplies to Kurds in Kobani – Voice of America

The U.S. military said it has airdropped weapons, ammunition and medical supplies to Kurds defending the northern Syrian town of Kobani from Islamic State militants. That could strain U.S.-Turkish relations. The “first-of-its-kind” supply mission came as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Jakarta trying to enlist Southeast Asian leaders in what one U.S. official called the global “effort to combat violent extremism.”

The U.S. Central Command said three C-130 aircraft carried out multiple successful airdrops of supplies in the vicinity of Kobani, including small-arms weapons provided by Iraqi Kurdish authorities. The airdrops, the first in the fight for the border town, were “intended to enable continued resistance against ISIL’s attempts to overtake Kobani.”

The U.S. statement said 135 U.S.-led airstrikes near Kobani have helped slow the IS group’s advances in a battle the Pentagon insists has left hundreds of jihadist fighters dead. Friday, U.S. Central Command commander General Lloyd Austin said those airstrikes in both Syria and Iraq are aimed at degrading IS’s command and control, combat power projection and continued sustainability.

“And, we are having the desired effects, and we’re seeking evidence of this not only in our battle damage assessments but, more important, we’re noting changes in the enemy’s behavior and tactics that reflects his diminished capability and restricted freedom of movement. For example, we’re no longer seeing them move around the country in large convoys. Now they’re mostly traveling in civilian vehicles in small numbers. This is hindering their ability to mass and to shift combat power. We’ve also seen them alter their methods of communication, which is inhibiting their ability to coordinate and synchronize their efforts,” said Austin.

Austin said the IS group has made the capture of Kobani its main effort, and cautioned the town near the Turkish border could still fall, although he has been encouraged by the determination of the Kurdish fighters to resist the IS advance.

RAND Corporation senior political scientist Rick Brennan, a former Army career officer, said Turkey’s refusal to help the Kurdish fighters has impeded progress against the IS group.

“The refusal of Turkey to either allow the United States to use airbases in its territory to target ISIS, as well as the unwillingness [of Ankara] to allow Kurdish fighters from Turkey to reinforce or resupply the Kurdish fighters in Kobani, are having a significant negative effect on the long-term operations going on in Kobani,” said Brennan.

Brennan is quick to add that Turkey has its own restive Kurdish minority and has called on the U.S.-led coalition to confront Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to end the civil war raging since March 2011.

President Barack Obama spoke with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, by phone late Saturday regarding the situation in Kobani and steps that could be taken to counter IS advances. They pledged to work closely together to strengthen cooperation against IS.

Erdogan indicated Sunday he would oppose supplying arms to Kurdish fighters in Kobani, calling the main Syrian Kurdish group, the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and its military wing equal to the Turkish Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which both Ankara and Washington have called a terrorist organization.

Brennan said Ankara’s interests are different than those of the United States.

“Turkey is primarily interested in ensuring that the Kurdish opposition doesn’t take a greater hold in Turkey and then going after Assad and then going after ISIS and, in comparison, the United States, which is more interested in going after ISIS is looking at the Kurds as a regional ally,” said Brennan.

Volunteers have told VOA Turkish authorities have stopped social rights activists from France, Germany and some other EU countries from taking much needed medicines and food supplies to Kobani. Ari Harki, a social activist from France, said Turkish authorities are not only stopping non-lethal supplies but also preventing Kurdish fighters from re-entering Syria to fight the militants.

In Indonesia, where he attended the inauguration of new President Joko Widodo, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry Monday sought support in Asia for the fight against IS militants, specifically ways to disrupt the recruitment of foreign fighters.  He met with officials from Indonesia, Australia, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore. 

Indonesian expert Peter McCawley of the Australian National University said the Indonesian government does not necessarily have great control over the Islamist community in the world’s largest Muslim country.

“The Muslim community in Indonesia and, indeed, worldwide is not a unified community.  There is no single leader, for example. There is nobody like the Pope or the Dalai Lama, there is no single person that speaks for the Islamic community, and that’s the case in Indonesia. There are various leadership groups, but there are many parts of the Islamic community and they do not necessarily recognize the authority of the Indonesian government over them. So, this is a big call,” said McCawley.

An official traveling with Kerry said he is hopeful Indonesia and its predominantly Muslim neighbors Malaysia and Brunei can play a significant role in confronting Islamist extremism. He said the United States is seeking greater cooperation among Southeast Asian nations to block recruitment of foreign fighters, to guard against the return of such fighters to the region, to debunk and denigrate extremist propaganda and to block illicit financing.

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US Drops Supplies to Help Kurdish Fighters in Syria – Voice of America

The U.S. military says its cargo planes have delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies from Kurdish authorities in Iraq to Kurds battling Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

A U.S. Central Command statement said the airdrops late Sunday in the Kobani area are meant to resupply the Kurds so they can continue holding off the Islamic State group’s attempt to overrun the city. The battle for the area just across the border from Turkey has been going on for weeks.

Earlier Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would not arm the Kurdish fighters, calling them “equal” to the Kurdistan Workers Party that both Turkey and the U.S. consider a terrorist group.

Erdogan said “it would be very, very wrong to expect” the Turkish government “to openly say ‘yes’ to our NATO ally America giving this kind of support. To expect something like this from us is impossible.”

He made the comment days after the United States said it held its first direct talks with the Syrian Kurdish political party the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which is tied to the Kurdish fighters in Kobani.

A State Department spokesperson stressed that one meeting does not represent coordination in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Senior officials told reporters that President Barack Obama notified Erdogan during a conversation Saturday that the military would carry out the airdrops.

The officials said the United States understands Turkey’s “long-standing concerns,” but that both countries are facing a common enemy.

They also highlighted a surge of resources the Islamic State group has sent toward Kobani in the past few weeks, saying that has provided an opportunity for U.S. military operations to target the group’s “finite resources.” The officials described the people of Kobani as being at risk of massacre, and said delivering supplies was not only a humanitarian mission but also a way to strike a blow against the militants.

The White House said Obama expressed appreciation for Turkey hosting more than one million refugees from the region – including about 400,000 who fled Kobani.

Meanwhile, Islamic State militants continued to attack Kurdish fighters in and around Kobani with mortars and car bombs, sources in the city and a monitoring group said on Sunday.

Islamic State militants fired 44 mortars at Kurdish parts of the city on Saturday, with some of the shells falling inside the nearby Turkish border, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The group said four more mortars were fired on Sunday.

Death toll

The Observatory said 70 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the past two days, according to sources at the hospital in the nearby town of Tel Abyab, where Islamic State bodies are taken. The group also said seven Kurdish fighters were killed.

Reuters cannot independently confirm the reports due to security restrictions.

U.S. officials said coalition jets also made eight airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria overnight, six of those in Kobani, as fighting continued for control of the key border city of Kobani.

Sunday morning saw a brief lull in the militants’ shelling of the city, but VOA correspondent Scott Bobb, reporting from the Turkish side of the border, said  that by early afternoon mortar and artillery fire was picking up, with some shells landing in the western part of Kobani and some near the border crossing with Turkey.

Kurdish sources told Bobb the situation in Kobani has improved somewhat, adding that they have been able to regain control of some surrounding villages.

A top Kobani city official told The Associated Press that coalition airstrikes have slowed down Islamic State militants but that air power is not enough. The official said Kurdish fighters need more weapons and ammunition.

Volunteer aid reportedly blocked

Also on Sunday, Turkish authorities have stopped civic activists from France, Germany and some other EU countries from taking much needed medicines and food supplies to Kobani, volunteers told VOA.

An activist from France, Ari Harki, told VOA’s Kurdish Service from the border near Kobani that Turkish authorities are not only stopping the medical and food supplies but also preventing Kurdish fighters from reentering Syria to fight the militants.

“Turkey is not only preventing us (activists) to cross the border but also Kobani’s residents who brought their kids and elders to the border area to return to the city to fight against the Islamic State,” said Harki.

Harki is among ten volunteers from different EU countries who are in Turkey trying to head across the border into Syria with relief goods.  He told VOA that people inside Kobani are in severe need of medicines and medical supplies as most of the city’s hospitals and pharmacies have been destroyed by shelling from Islamist State militants.

Strategic point

Turkish and U.S. officials said last week that Islamic State fighters were on the verge of taking Kobani from its heavily outgunned Kurdish defenders, after seizing strategic points deep inside the town.

The four-week Islamic State assault has been seen as a test of U.S. President Barack Obama’s airstrike strategy, and Kurdish leaders said the town cannot survive without arms and ammunition reaching the defenders, something neighboring Turkey has so far refused to allow.

The Islamic State group has been keen to take the town to consolidate its position in northern Syria after seizing large amounts of territory in the country and in Iraq.

A defeat of Islamic State militants in Kobani would be a major setback for the Islamists and a boost for the U.S.-led, anti-Islamic State coalition.

The coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq since August and extended the campaign to Syria in September.

Iraq strikes; memorials

Meanwhile, Iraqi state television reports that Iraqi airstrikes have killed 60 Islamic State fighters in Anbar province.

Also Saturday, the family of British aid worker David Haines, who was beheaded by the Islamic State group last month, held a memorial service in Scotland. Mourners also honored another aid worker kidnapped and murdered by the militants, Alan Henning.

Islamic State militants had also beheaded two U.S. journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

The militants said they killed the four Westerners to avenge U.S.-led airstrikes. But many leading Muslim officials condemned militants, calling the murders un-Islamic.

VOA’s Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Suruc, Turkey. Kokab Farshori from VOA’s Kurdish Service also contributed. Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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US Drops Supplies to Help Kurdish Fighters in Syria – Voice of America

The U.S. military says its cargo planes have delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies from Kurdish authorities in Iraq to Kurds battling Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

A U.S. Central Command statement said the airdrops late Sunday in the Kobani area are meant to resupply the Kurds so they can continue holding off the Islamic State group’s attempt to overrun the city. The battle for the area just across the border from Turkey has been going on for weeks.

Earlier Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would not arm the Kurdish fighters, calling them “equal” to the Kurdistan Workers Party that both Turkey and the U.S. consider a terrorist group.

Erdogan said “it would be very, very wrong to expect” the Turkish government “to openly say ‘yes’ to our NATO ally America giving this kind of support. To expect something like this from us is impossible.”

He made the comment days after the United States said it held its first direct talks with the Syrian Kurdish political party the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which is tied to the Kurdish fighters in Kobani.

A State Department spokesperson stressed that one meeting does not represent coordination in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Late Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Erdogan about the situation in Kobani and steps that can be taken to stop Islamic State militants. 

The White House said Obama expressed appreciation for Turkey hosting more than one million refugees from the region – including about 400,000 who fled Kobani.

Meanwhile, Islamic State militants continued to attack Kurdish fighters in and around Kobani with mortars and car bombs, sources in the city and a monitoring group said on Sunday.

Islamic State militants fired 44 mortars at Kurdish parts of the city on Saturday, with some of the shells falling inside the nearby Turkish border, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The group said four more mortars were fired on Sunday.

Death toll

The Observatory said 70 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the past two days, according to sources at the hospital in the nearby town of Tel Abyab, where Islamic State bodies are taken. The group also said seven Kurdish fighters were killed.

Reuters cannot independently confirm the reports due to security restrictions.

U.S. officials said coalition jets also made eight airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria overnight, six of those in Kobani, as fighting continued for control of the key border city of Kobani.

Sunday morning saw a brief lull in the militants’ shelling of the city, but VOA correspondent Scott Bobb, reporting from the Turkish side of the border, said  that by early afternoon mortar and artillery fire was picking up, with some shells landing in the western part of Kobani and some near the border crossing with Turkey.

Kurdish sources told Bobb the situation in Kobani has improved somewhat, adding that they have been able to regain control of some surrounding villages.

A top Kobani city official told The Associated Press that coalition airstrikes have slowed down Islamic State militants but that air power is not enough. The official said Kurdish fighters need more weapons and ammunition.

Volunteer aid reportedly blocked

Also on Sunday, Turkish authorities have stopped civic activists from France, Germany and some other EU countries from taking much needed medicines and food supplies to Kobani, volunteers told VOA.

An activist from France, Ari Harki, told VOA’s Kurdish Service from the border near Kobani that Turkish authorities are not only stopping the medical and food supplies but also preventing Kurdish fighters from reentering Syria to fight the militants.

“Turkey is not only preventing us (activists) to cross the border but also Kobani’s residents who brought their kids and elders to the border area to return to the city to fight against the Islamic State,” said Harki.

Harki is among ten volunteers from different EU countries who are in Turkey trying to head across the border into Syria with relief goods.  He told VOA that people inside Kobani are in severe need of medicines and medical supplies as most of the city’s hospitals and pharmacies have been destroyed by shelling from Islamist State militants.

Strategic point

Turkish and U.S. officials said last week that Islamic State fighters were on the verge of taking Kobani from its heavily outgunned Kurdish defenders, after seizing strategic points deep inside the town.

The four-week Islamic State assault has been seen as a test of U.S. President Barack Obama’s airstrike strategy, and Kurdish leaders said the town cannot survive without arms and ammunition reaching the defenders, something neighboring Turkey has so far refused to allow.

The Islamic State group has been keen to take the town to consolidate its position in northern Syria after seizing large amounts of territory in the country and in Iraq.

A defeat of Islamic State militants in Kobani would be a major setback for the Islamists and a boost for the U.S.-led, anti-Islamic State coalition.

The coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq since August and extended the campaign to Syria in September.

Iraq strikes; memorials

Meanwhile, Iraqi state television reports that Iraqi airstrikes have killed 60 Islamic State fighters in Anbar province.

Also Saturday, the family of British aid worker David Haines, who was beheaded by the Islamic State group last month, held a memorial service in Scotland. Mourners also honored another aid worker kidnapped and murdered by the militants, Alan Henning.

Islamic State militants had also beheaded two U.S. journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

The militants said they killed the four Westerners to avenge U.S.-led airstrikes. But many leading Muslim officials condemned militants, calling the murders un-Islamic.

VOA’s Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Suruc, Turkey. Kokab Farshori from VOA’s Kurdish Service also contributed. Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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US Drops Supplies to Help Kurdish Fighters in Syria – Voice of America

The U.S. military says its cargo planes have delivered weapons, ammunition and medical supplies from Kurdish authorities in Iraq to Kurds battling Islamic State militants in northern Syria.

A U.S. Central Command statement said the airdrops late Sunday in the Kobani area are meant to resupply the Kurds so they can continue holding off the Islamic State group’s attempt to overrun the city. The battle for the area just across the border from Turkey has been going on for weeks.

Earlier Sunday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would not arm the Kurdish fighters, calling them “equal” to the Kurdistan Workers Party that both Turkey and the U.S. consider a terrorist group.

Erdogan said “it would be very, very wrong to expect” the Turkish government “to openly say ‘yes’ to our NATO ally America giving this kind of support. To expect something like this from us is impossible.”

He made the comment days after the United States said it held its first direct talks with the Syrian Kurdish political party the Kurdish Democratic Union Party, which is tied to the Kurdish fighters in Kobani.

A State Department spokesperson stressed that one meeting does not represent coordination in the fight against the Islamic State group.

Late Saturday, U.S. President Barack Obama spoke by telephone with Erdogan about the situation in Kobani and steps that can be taken to stop Islamic State militants. 

The White House said Obama expressed appreciation for Turkey hosting more than one million refugees from the region – including about 400,000 who fled Kobani.

Meanwhile, Islamic State militants continued to attack Kurdish fighters in and around Kobani with mortars and car bombs, sources in the city and a monitoring group said on Sunday.

Islamic State militants fired 44 mortars at Kurdish parts of the city on Saturday, with some of the shells falling inside the nearby Turkish border, according to the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The group said four more mortars were fired on Sunday.

Death toll

The Observatory said 70 Islamic State fighters had been killed in the past two days, according to sources at the hospital in the nearby town of Tel Abyab, where Islamic State bodies are taken. The group also said seven Kurdish fighters were killed.

Reuters cannot independently confirm the reports due to security restrictions.

U.S. officials said coalition jets also made eight airstrikes on Islamic State targets in Syria overnight, six of those in Kobani, as fighting continued for control of the key border city of Kobani.

Sunday morning saw a brief lull in the militants’ shelling of the city, but VOA correspondent Scott Bobb, reporting from the Turkish side of the border, said  that by early afternoon mortar and artillery fire was picking up, with some shells landing in the western part of Kobani and some near the border crossing with Turkey.

Kurdish sources told Bobb the situation in Kobani has improved somewhat, adding that they have been able to regain control of some surrounding villages.

A top Kobani city official told The Associated Press that coalition airstrikes have slowed down Islamic State militants but that air power is not enough. The official said Kurdish fighters need more weapons and ammunition.

Volunteer aid reportedly blocked

Also on Sunday, Turkish authorities have stopped civic activists from France, Germany and some other EU countries from taking much needed medicines and food supplies to Kobani, volunteers told VOA.

An activist from France, Ari Harki, told VOA’s Kurdish Service from the border near Kobani that Turkish authorities are not only stopping the medical and food supplies but also preventing Kurdish fighters from reentering Syria to fight the militants.

“Turkey is not only preventing us (activists) to cross the border but also Kobani’s residents who brought their kids and elders to the border area to return to the city to fight against the Islamic State,” said Harki.

Harki is among ten volunteers from different EU countries who are in Turkey trying to head across the border into Syria with relief goods.  He told VOA that people inside Kobani are in severe need of medicines and medical supplies as most of the city’s hospitals and pharmacies have been destroyed by shelling from Islamist State militants.

Strategic point

Turkish and U.S. officials said last week that Islamic State fighters were on the verge of taking Kobani from its heavily outgunned Kurdish defenders, after seizing strategic points deep inside the town.

The four-week Islamic State assault has been seen as a test of U.S. President Barack Obama’s airstrike strategy, and Kurdish leaders said the town cannot survive without arms and ammunition reaching the defenders, something neighboring Turkey has so far refused to allow.

The Islamic State group has been keen to take the town to consolidate its position in northern Syria after seizing large amounts of territory in the country and in Iraq.

A defeat of Islamic State militants in Kobani would be a major setback for the Islamists and a boost for the U.S.-led, anti-Islamic State coalition.

The coalition has been bombing Islamic State targets in Iraq since August and extended the campaign to Syria in September.

Iraq strikes; memorials

Meanwhile, Iraqi state television reports that Iraqi airstrikes have killed 60 Islamic State fighters in Anbar province.

Also Saturday, the family of British aid worker David Haines, who was beheaded by the Islamic State group last month, held a memorial service in Scotland. Mourners also honored another aid worker kidnapped and murdered by the militants, Alan Henning.

Islamic State militants had also beheaded two U.S. journalists – James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

The militants said they killed the four Westerners to avenge U.S.-led airstrikes. But many leading Muslim officials condemned militants, calling the murders un-Islamic.

VOA’s Scott Bobb contributed to this report from Suruc, Turkey. Kokab Farshori from VOA’s Kurdish Service also contributed. Some material for this report came from Reuters.

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CEO of Texas Hospital Group Apologizes for Mistakes in Ebola Cases – New York Times

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NPR
CEO of Texas Hospital Group Apologizes for Mistakes in Ebola Cases
New York Times
DALLAS — The head of the group that runs the Texas hospital under scrutiny for mishandling Ebola cases apologized Sunday in full-page ads in local Dallas newspapers, saying the hospital “made mistakes in handling this very difficult challenge.” Barclay E.
As quarantine nears end, Ebola victim's fiancee cites two brave nursesLos Angeles Times
Family: Amber Vinson was 'in no way careless'USA TODAY
Dallas Ebola Victims' Families Speak OutHuffington Post
CBS News -SFGate -WABC-TV
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‘Untrue and Hurtful’: Famly of Ebola Nurse Amber Vinson Says She Wasn’t … – NBCNews.com

The family of Amber Vinson, one of the Dallas nurses who contracted Ebola after treating a patient, said Sunday that they are troubled by “negative public comments” and press coverage suggesting that she was careless.

“She has not and would not knowingly expose herself or anyone else,” the family said in a statement. “Suggestions that she ignored any of the physician and government-provided protocols recommended to her are patently untrue and hurtful.”

The statement added that the family has retained a lawyer for counsel “during this unfortunate and troubling time.”

Vinson treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who later died of Ebola in a Dallas hospital. She tested positive after flying to Cleveland to plan her wedding and returning to Dallas. She is being treated in a special isolation unit in Atlanta.

The statement said that Vinson flew back to Dallas on Oct. 13 as a precaution, unsettled by news that another nurse, Nina Pham, had tested positive.

The statement said that Vinson reported her temperature to health officials three times, and each time was cleared to fly. Federal health officials have said that she had a low-grade fever, 99.5 degrees, and have confirmed that she was given the OK to fly.

Authorities are monitoring people who had contact with Vinson during her trip. None has been reported sick.

— Erin McClam

First published October 19 2014, 4:11 PM

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Friends, family of Ebola patient reach milestone – Fox News

As her boyfriend Thomas Eric Duncan lay dying of Ebola in a Dallas hospital bed, Louise Troh battled loneliness and fear that she too had contracted the disease while confined to a stranger’s home under armed guard.

Troh’s confinement was ending Sunday night, along with several friends, family and others who had contact with Duncan after he first became infectious. Ebola has a 21-day incubation period, and the people who interacted with Duncan after he first arrived in Dallas from Liberia will be in the clear.

It’s an important milestone in the nation’s efforts to contain the outbreak and a cause for celebration for Troh. After three long weeks, she will be able to have a clean bill of health, leave the house and be done with twice-daily temperature readings by government health care workers. She likened the period to being a prisoner.

“I want to breathe, I want to really grieve, I want privacy with my family,” Troh told The Associated Press on Friday, lamenting that she was missing Duncan’s memorial service at his mother’s church in North Carolina because of the quarantine. Troh says she and Duncan planned to get married later in the week.

Duncan arrived in Dallas from Liberia in late September and went to the hospital complaining of headache and stomach pain. He was sent home with a prescription for antibiotics to treat a misdiagnosed sinus infection. He returned two days later, was diagnosed with Ebola and died Oct. 8.

The day Duncan tested positive for Ebola, Troh, her 13-year-old son, Duncan’s nephew and a family friend were ordered by a Dallas court to stay inside the apartment among Duncan’s used linens and any lingering virus. The unusual confinement order was imposed after the family failed to comply with a request not to leave the apartment, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins said. The four were later taken to an undisclosed gated community.

Jenkins and Troh’s pastor George Mason delivered the news of Duncan’s death to her during the confinement period.

The other people who will have their quarantine period end at midnight include Youngor Jallah, Troh’s daughter, a nurse’s assistant who checked Duncan’s vital signs before calling for an ambulance.

For nearly three weeks, Jallah has not left the cramped, second-story apartment she shares with her partner, Aaron Yah, their three children, ages 2, 4 and 6, and Yah’s 10-year-old son.

Unlike Troh, Jallah is not prevented from leaving by an armed guard, but Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials have come by daily to check everyone’s temperature.

“I’m telling you, just to step outside will be so great. To hug my mom and grieve for Eric, not over the phone like we’ve been doing but in the flesh,” Jallah said.

Mason said he is coordinating efforts with the city, county and philanthropic community to help Troh and the family recover. Because of the Ebola infection risk, crews stripped Troh’s apartment down to the carpeting, saving only a few personal documents, photographs and a Bible.

“They were left with nothing. They are completely devastated by this, so there’s need to have their lives rebuilt,” Mason said.

Troh plans to partially recover financially with a book written about her life, from growing up in Liberia, meeting Duncan in a refugee camp in Ivory Coast, Duncan’s years-long quest to come to America to be reunited with his girlfriend and their 19-year-old son, and his death in an isolation ward.

“It will be a love story,” she said.

Troh also issued a statement Sunday asking for privacy as she comes through the ordeal while thanking everyone who came to their side.

At Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas on Sunday, associate pastor Mark Wingfield said the congregation was eager to welcome Troh back.

“We look forward to welcoming Louise and her family members back to church after the quarantine is lifted and we want you to know that when that happens we will be glad to receive each one of them,” he said.

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