NYC Prepares for Possible Ebola Outbreak


With cases of Ebola reaching places outside of Africa, New York City is preparing for Ebola. The virus is not in New York City despite several local scares. 

The growing paranoia around the nation is largely unfounded. Assistant Professor of Theology, Science, and Ethics and affiliated faculty in American Studies and Environmental Policy at Fordham, Christiana Z. Peppard, Ph.D. said, “Ebola is spread by direct contact with bodily fluids. The people infected in the U.S. are healthcare workers who came into direct contact with bodily fluids while caring for the late Mr. Duncan. There is not an ‘outbreak’ of Ebola in the U.S.” 

Even though an outbreak in New York City is unlikely Governor Andrew Cuomo released a press release on Oct. 16 about New York State’s preparedness plan against Ebola. Cuomo stated, “Protecting the people of this state is one of our top priorities in government, and I want all New Yorkers to know that we are doing everything necessary to safeguard against the risks of Ebola.” 

The preparedness plan includes screenings at John F. Kennedy International Airport of travelers from West African nations with Ebola outbreaks. The plan also includes establishing eight hospitals which are creating isolation units in case of an Ebola patient in New York City. Mayor Bill de Blasio recently also announced that his administration will offer specialized training on how to handle Ebola cases to the city workers who could be the first to fall victim to the disease if the virus were ever diagnosed in NYC.

“This administration has always erred on the side of caution, and this issue is no different. New Yorkers should rest assured that we are taking the steps to be fully prepared for whatever the future brings,” Cuomo said. 

The University addressed the issue in a message from the Student Health Services: “Fordham asks that any student, faculty or staff member who has recently visited the affected areas to contact the appropriate University Health Center office upon their return, and prior to entry into Fordham housing, classes, or on-campus work.”  

Many students are fearful of the virus. Anne Marie Bogar, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’16, said, “I just went back home to Dallas for Columbus Day Weekend … my dad said Dallas had been making a big deal about it. Since I’ve come back everyone’s been making jokes that I contracted Ebola, although I think my roommates might actually be concerned.” The first case diagnosed in the United States was that of Thomas Eric Duncan in Dallas, Texas, who passed away from the disease recently. Since then, two more cases involving nurses who aided Duncan have come to light. The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has since apologized for the handling of the first case. 

Another student who visited Dallas recently, Adiyah Baig FCLC ‘16, also talked about her fear while visiting the city. “The day I flew out, as I boarded, the first victim died so I wasn’t worried until I heard the nurses caught it. That terrified me because [that means] the virus was still alive.” 

With an Ebola outbreak unlikely to occur Peppard states, “The question is what we do with our fear: learn more and think critically? Or advocate for closing the airports? The latter is too extreme for the current situation … If people are truly, deeply concerned about stopping the spread of Ebola, then our resources need to be directed not just at home but, more considerably, abroad: in West Africa.”