A New York City doctor who recently returned from West Africa has tested positive for Ebola, marking the first confirmed case in the United States outside of Texas, where two nurses had been diagnosed earlier this month.
Several media outlets identified the doctor Thursday night as Craig Spencer, who works with Doctors Without Borders and had recently returned from Guinea.
City, state and federal officials held a news conference Thursday evening to discuss the case and attempt to reassure the public that the city’s 8 million residents and the millions of other people who travel to the city each day are not in imminent danger. You can watch the news conference in the video above.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Spencer Tested Positive for Ebola on Thursday
Multiple media outlets reported Thursday afternoon that Spencer had been tested for Ebola after being rushed to Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan, where he was placed in isolation.
Thursday night, reports emerged that he had tested positive. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta will conduct a follow-up test to confirm the initial test.
Spencer is the first Ebola patient in New York City, which has been bracing for a possible case for months, and the first in the Northeast.
His diagnosis comes a week after a Yale University grad student who had just returned from Liberia was hospitalized with Ebola-type symptoms but later tested negative for the virus.
2. Spencer Had Traveled to Guinea
Spencer, a fellow of international emergency medicine at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, had just gotten back from a trip that included a stop in Guinea, one of the three West African nations most severely hit by the epidemic. He had also traveled to Belgium during the trip.
Columbia Presbyterian said in a statement published by CNN that Spencer had not been to work at the hospital since his return.
Here’s the statement, via CNN.
He is a committed and responsible physician who always puts his patients first. He has not been to work at our hospital and has not seen any patients at our hospital since his return from overseas.
3. Spencer Was Taken Out of His Apartment on a Stretcher After His Fever Spiked
Spencer began to feel seriously ill Thursday, when his fever spiked to 103 degrees and he began vomiting. He was hauled out of his apartment on West 147th Street in Harlem on a stretcher and rushed to the hospital, the New York Daily News reported.
He was rushed to the hospital and put into isolation as haz-mat crews from the New York City fire department sealed off his apartment at 546 West 147th Street in Harlem.
By Thursday night, there was what people described as a “media circus” outside the apartment.
4. Spencer Went Bowling Wednesday Night in Brooklyn & Used the Subway & Uber to Get Around
The New York Times reported that prior to being admitted to the hospital, Spencer had taken a subway to a bowling alley in Brooklyn, then taken a cab back to Manhattan, stoking fears about the virus spreading in America’s biggest city.
The Daily News reported that he had been at two bowling alleys in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn and used Uber and the 1, A and L trains to get around.
The News reported Spencer was at The Gutter on North 14th Street and Brooklyn Bowl on Wythe Avenue. The Gutter was closed Thursday amid reports on Spencer’s condition.
Brooklyn Bowl, meanwhile, posted on its Facebook page that the organization was aware of the reports about Spencer but had not been contacted by authorities and had no other information.
At a Thursday evening news conference and on Twitter, Mayor Bill de Blasio tried to reassure the public that the city is well equipped to handle the situation.
Centers of Disease Control director Tom Freiden joined the news conference by phone and said the CDC already had a team on the ground in New York, reviewing Bellevue Hospital’s policies and helping officials there prepare for potential Ebola cases.
Officials stressed that Ebola is not contagious until a patient has started feeling symptoms, and even that, it’s only transmittable through bodily fluids and is not airborne. Since Spencer was not symptomatic when he went bowling and used public transportation, officials said people who came into contact with him are likely not at risk.
5. Spencer’s Fiancee Has Been Quarantined
Mayor Bill de Blasio stressed to reporters Thursday that Spencer had come into contact with very few people. But one person he had come into extensive contact with — his fiancee — has been quarantined. The Daily News identified her as 30-year-old Morgan Dixon.
Citing the city’s health commissioner, New York Post reporter Connor Ryan tweeted that Dixon and two other close contacts of Spencer were feeling well and had been quarantined.