<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - National & International News]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/national-international http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:02:57 -0500 Fri, 24 Oct 2014 09:02:57 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Who Is Craig Spencer, 1st New York Ebola Patient?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:30:40 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/craig-spencer.jpg

New York City doctor Craig Spencer is the fourth person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States and the first in New York. He recently came back from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, and preliminarily tested positive for the Ebola virus at Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, Oct. 23.

Spencer is the fifth U.S. aid worker to contract the virus while working in West Africa. Dr. Kent Brantly, who recovered from Ebola earlier this year, issued a statement saying he is "grieved to hear about another health care worker contracting Ebola in West Africa.

"My prayers are with Dr. Spencer, his family and the crew taking care of him, he said in a statement released to NBC's "Today." "From everything I've read and heard about his circumstances, it sounds like New York has done everything right to contain this case."

Here's what we know so far about Spencer, his background, what he has done since coming back to the U.S. and the people with whom he may have come into contact.

Who is Craig Spencer?

Spencer, 33, is an emergency room doctor at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital's Columbia Medical Center campus in Upper Manhattan. He is a Detroit native who went to Wayne State University there and has family in that area.

He was volunteering with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, one of the three West African nations experiencing an Ebola epidemic. He hasn't returned to work at NewYork-Presbyterian since returning to the U.S., the hospital said in a statement.

Spencer "went to an area of medical crisis to help a desperately underserved population," the hospital said in a statement. "He is a committed and responsible physician who always put his patients first."

Spencer also attended Columbia's University Mailman School of Public Health.

"Off to Guinea with Doctors Without Borders,'' he reportedly posted on Facebook on Sept. 18  along with a photo showing him dressed in protective gear. "Please support organizations that are sending support or personnel to West Africa, and help combat one of the worst public health and humanitarian disasters in recent history.''

Spencer left for West Africa via Brussels in mid-September, according to the Facebook page. He completed his assignment in Africa on Oct. 12 and left on Oct. 14 via Europe. He arrived in the U.S. on Oct. 17 at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

When Did Spencer Test Positive for Ebola?

Spencer participated in the enhanced screening at JFK for all travelers returning from the West African nations affected by Ebola. He did not have fever or other Ebola symptoms.

While back in New York, Spencer checked his temperature twice daily, Mary Travis Bassett, New York City’s health commissioner said Thursday evening during a media briefing. He began feeling sluggish on Oct. 21, but did not have any symptoms at that time. He felt well enough to go on a three-mile jog this week.

On Thursday morning, between 10 and 11 a.m. ET, Spencer reported coming down with a 100.3-degree fever and diarrhea and called 911, New York's Department of Health said. Officials corrected the number Friday morning after having first said his temperature was 103 degrees.

He was transported from his Hamilton Heights apartment at West 147th Street to Bellevue, one of eight New York state hospital designated to treat Ebola patients, by a specially trained HAZ TAC unit wearing personal protective equipment (PPE). Spencer was placed in a special isolation unit at the hospital where he's being cared for by the predesignated medical critical care team.

Doctors Without Borders said it was notified about Spencer's fever Thursday morning and immediately notified New York City health officials.

A blood sample was sent to the New York City Health Department laboratory, which is part of the Laboratory Response Network overseen by the CDC, for preliminary testing, and tested positive for Ebola. Confirmation testing will be done Friday at CDC headquarters in Atlanta.

What Did Spencer Do Since Returning From Africa? 

Bassett said Spencer spent most of his time in his apartment, limiting his contact with people, but he had gone on a three-mile jog, taken the A, 1 and L subway trains and visited the High Line elevated park in Manhattan.

He also took an Uber livery car to The Gutter bowling alley in Brooklyn Wednesday night, where he met some friends and bowled.

"At the time he was at the bowling alley, he had no fever," Bassett stressed.

Who May Have Been Affected?

Health officials have been tracing Spencer's contacts to identify anyone who may be at risk. Bassett said officials were aware of four people who came in contact with Spencer: his fiancee, two friends, and the Uber driver.

The fiancee and friends who have been in direct contact with Spencer have been quarantined and are in good health, she said. They weren't yet being tested for Ebola because they were showing no symptoms, she said.

The Uber driver was determined not to be at risk because he had no direct physical contact with Spencer.

“Our understanding is that very few people were in direct contact with him," Mayor de Blasio said Thursday.

What Happens Next?

Spencer's apartment was cordoned off and the Department of Health was giving out information to area residents Thursday night. The bowling alley has been closed as a precaution, and will be examined Friday.

The Gutter said in a Facebook post Thursday that it had talked with health department officials, who determined that other bowlers weren't at risk for contracting the disease.

Officials have Spencer's MetroCard to track where he's traveled. They said there's a "close to nil" chance anyone was exposed on the subway.

"There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed," de Blasio said. "We've been preparing for months for the threat of Ebola with clear and strong protocols that were scrupulously followed in this instance."

A specially trained team determined earlier this week that Bellevue Hospital has been trained in proper protocols and is well prepared to handle Ebola patients, the CDC said.

Several members of the CDC's rapid response team were on their way to New York on Thursday night, and others were set to arrive Friday morning, a federal official told NBC News.

President Obama spoke Thursday night to de Blasio and Gov. Cuomo and offered the federal government's support, The Associated Press reported. He asked them to stay in close touch with Ron Klain, his "Ebola czar," as well as public health officials in Washington.

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<![CDATA[Queen Elizabeth II Sends Her First Tweet]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 07:20:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/AP262404366191.jpg

Queen Elizabeth II tweets.

The British Monarch sent her first missive from the @BritishMonarchy Twitter account Friday morning to herald the opening of the Information Age exhibition at London's Science Museum, which fittingly celebrates the history of information and communication technology.

"It is a pleasure to open the Information Age exhibition today at the @sciencemuseum and I hope people will enjoy visiting. Elizabeth R," read the tweet.

Immediately following the above tweet, another was issued stating: "The last tweet was sent personally by The Queen from her official Twitter account @BritishMonarchy #TheQueenTweets."

According to another tweet from @BritishMonarchy sent earlier Friday, the Queen, 88, was also the first monarch to send an email (it was actually via an early from of the technology known as ARPANET) while on a visit to a military base in 1976.

The Queen is not the first member of the Royal Family to take to social media. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge used the Clarence House account to announce the arrival of Prince George in 2013, and to reveal the news he would be having a baby brother or sister in 2014. Prince Harry sent his first ever tweet earlier this year when he launched the Invictus Games.



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[Ebola in New York]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:15:36 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/craig-spencer.jpg Craig Spencer, a doctor who recently returned from an Ebola assignment with Doctors Without Borders in West Africa, has returned to New York and tested positive for the disease. See photos from the scene. ]]> <![CDATA[Man Fires 28 Times on Neighborhood]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:42:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/225*120/Assault+Rifle+Alton+Street+Shooting.JPG

A Northeast Philadelphia man fired an assault rifle at his neighbor more than two dozen times after an argument spiraled out of control Thursday night.

"The shooter fired multiple shots, unloaded his magazine, then reloaded the weapon," said Philadelphia Police Chief Inspector Scott Small.

Not only was the 57-year-old neighbor hit multiple times but bullets -- police said at least 28 were fired -- also hit neighboring homes along the 8900 block Alton Street in the Bustleton section of the city.

Medics rushed a 57-year-old man from the scene to Einstein Medical Center in critical condition, according to Philadelphia Police.

"This victim stated who he was shot by," said Small.

Investigators said the incident began as an argument between the older man and a 26-year-old suspect around 7:30 p.m. in the rear driveway of the homes. At some point the suspect grabbed an assault rifle and began firing, police said.

At least 20 bullets hit two neighboring homes, said police. Officers checked on the residents inside and luckily no one was hit.

Police arrested the unidentified shooting suspect without incident and confiscated the rifle, said Small.



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[How Is Ebola Spread?]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 04:37:37 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/456202288.jpg

The latest case of a positive Ebola test in the United States sparked immediate concerns about who may have been exposed and helped shed light on how the potentially deadly virus is, and isn't, spread.

Craig Spencer, a doctor who recently returned from West Africa, where he was on an Ebola assignment for Doctors Without Borders, tested positive for the virus Thursday at Bellevue Hospital Center in New York reporting a fever and gastrointestinal symptoms, a source familiar with the results told NBC New York.

Ebola can only be spread by infected people who show symptoms, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. If an exposed person does not develop symptoms within 21 days of exposure, the person will not become sick with Ebola, according to the CDC.

"There is no risk to people who have been in contact with those who have been sick with Ebola and recovered, or people who have been exposed and have not yet shown symptoms," the CDC's director Dr. Thomas Frieden explained last month, after the first patient tested positive in the United States.

That patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, recently flew to the United States from Liberia, one of the West African countries now grappling with a deadly Ebola outbreak. Because he showed no signs of sickness until four days after landing in the U.S., however, officials are not worried about travelers who were on the plane with him. Duncan died on Oct. 8 in a Dallas hospital.

The initial spread of the Ebola virus to humans is unknown, although researchers believe that "patient zero" in the recent West Africa outbreak became infected through contact with an infected animal, possibly a bat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

How Ebola Is Spread:

Once a person is infected, the CDC said there are several ways Ebola can spread to other people:

  • Touching the blood or body fluids of a person who is sick with or has died from Ebola, including urine, saliva, breat milk, feces, vomit and semen. To become infected with the virus, you would need to get some of the ill person’s bodily fluids into your mouth, nose, or eyes, or into your body via a cut or a needle stick. Doctors say that there is no evidence anyone has ever been infected via sweat.
  • Touching objects contaminated with the virus, like syringes or other medical equipment
  • Touching infected animals, by contact with blood or fluids or infected meat
  • A cough from a sick patient could infect someone close enough to be sprayed with droplets of mucus or saliva. People dealing with anyone who may be ill are told to stand at least three feet away, preferably six. Being within three feet of a patient for a prolonged time, without wearing protective gear, is considered direct contact, according to Frieden.
  • According to a new Ebola situation assessment issued by the World Health Organization on Monday, saliva and tears may also carry some risk. "However, the studies implicating these additional bodily fluids were extremely limited in sample size and the science is inconclusive, W.H.O. said. "In studies of saliva, the virus was found most frequently in patients at a severe stage of illness. The whole live virus has never been isolated from sweat."

Direct contact through broken skin or mucus membranes is key, as the CDC said Ebola cannot be spread through the air (the virus doesn't drift through the air like germs that cause measles or tuberculosis) or by water or food. However, that may not have been the case in some cases in Africa, where Ebola may have been spread through the handling of wild animals hunted for food and contact with infected bats, according to the CDC.

What Are the Symptoms of Ebola:

The following symptoms can appear from two to 21 days after exposure:

  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Stomach pain
  • Unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Muscle pain

Generally, after 21 days, if an exposed person has not developed symptoms, he or she will not become sick, the CDC said.

However, the Ebola virus has been found in semen for up to three months after exposure, so those who have recovered from the virus are advised not to have sex, or else only to have sex using condoms, during that time, according to the CDC.

Are Patients Who Recover From Ebola Immune for Life?

Evidence shows that people who recover from Ebola infection develop antibodies that last for at least 10 years, or longer, according to the CDC. But it's not known if people who recover are immune for life or if they can become infected with a different species of Ebola.

Can Ebola Be Passed on the Subway?

Spencer rode the subways, A, L and No. 1 since arriving in New York on Oct. 17, according to officials. Until Thursday morning, his temperature was normal and he was not experiencing any of the early symptoms of Ebola disease.

No one has conduced tests on Ebola transmission on subways, according to The New York Times, but no case of transmission to a human from a dry surface has ever been confirmed and there are no known instances of transmission on public transport in Africa. The C.D.C. has said there is “no epidemiological evidence” for transmission from hospital surfaces, including bed rails and door knobs – which are similar to subway poles and a bus handles.  

Can Ebola Mutate to Become Aiborne?

According to experts, it is very unlikely that the virus would mutate to become airborne. The Ebola virus has not previously mutated in this way, and experts say there is no other virus that has changed from non-airborne to airborne in humans.

Can Mosquitoes Spread Ebola?

There is no evidence that mosquitos or other insects can transmit the virus, according to the CDC. Only mammals (for example, humans, bats, monkeys and apes) have shown the ability to spread and become infected with Ebola virus.

How Long Does the Ebola Virus Live:

The virus can survive for a few hours on dry surfaces like doorknobs and countertops, according to the C.D.C. It can, however, survive for several days in puddles or collections of body fluid at room temperature. It is not clear how long it may survive in soiled linens and clothing.

A thorough cleaning with hospital-grade disinfectants (such as household bleach) will kill Ebola.

How Can Travelers Protect Themselves:

The CDC said travelers can do several things to protect themselves when visiting the area where the outbreak is occurring, including:

  • Wash your hands frequently or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Do not touch the blood and body fluids of an ill person or the body of someone who has died from Ebola.
  • Do not touch bats and nonhuman primates or their blood and fluids and do not touch or eat raw meat prepared from these animals.
  • Avoid hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated. The U.S. Embassy or consulate is often able to provide advice on facilities.
  • Seek medical care immediately if you develop fever (temperature of 101.5oF/ 38.6oC) and any of the other following symptoms: headache, muscle pain, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain, or unexplained bruising or bleeding.

There is no vaccine for the Ebola virus, but researchers are currently testing two.



Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Ebola Lessons Hit Close to Home for Nursing School ]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 20:19:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_ebola_funerario_duncan.jpg

Just before Thomas Eric Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, students in a microbiology class at Texas Christian University read the medical thriller "The Hot Zone."

The 1994 best-selling chronicle introduced them to virus hunters desperately battling outbreaks of Ebola and other deadly viral hemorrhagic fevers in Africa, the dangers the scientists faced and the stringent safety procedures they followed, from the biohazard clothing they wore to chemical showers and ultraviolet scans they used to keep from infecting themselves.

It was enthralling and far away.

And then Ebola arrived in Dallas — sickening a Texas Christian University graduate, Nina Pham, one of the two nurses who became ill after they cared for Duncan, the Liberian man who died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.

When the Ebola scare began unfolding three weeks ago, 19-year-old nursing student Andrea Jumper thought about what she had read, particularly the protective steps the researchers took in "The Hot Zone.”

"It was all decontamination," the sophomore from Keller, Texas, said. "They had so much protection and they were just dealing with little samples of Ebola.”

She wondered why Duncan’s specimens were sent through the hospital’s tube delivery system during Duncan first visit to the hospital, when he arrived at the emergency room with a fever and complaining of nausea, abdominal pain and other symptoms. That changed when, after initially being sent home, he returned on Sept. 28 and was hospitalized.

“It was really mind-boggling to me that here they sent in the samples with all the other blood samples,” she said. “And they didn't have nearly as much of the protection as they use in the book.”

The hospital just did not know what to expect, she said.

It’s an assessment that Texas Health Presbyterian shares. It has acknowledged that its nurses had not received full training for such a deadly, contagious illness and that it made mistakes.

“On that visit to the Emergency Department, we did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola,” Barclay Berdan, the CEO of Texas Health Resources, the hospital’s parent company, wrote in a letter to the community. “For this, we are deeply sorry.”

At Texas Christian University's Fort Worth campus of yellow brick buildings, green quads and purple depictions of the school's mascot, a horned frog, the nursing students are keeping up with the latest developments on Ebola and here, their discussions have an added urgency. They will soon be on medicine's front lines, battling Ebola and other illnesses.

Kristie Tinh, a 21-year-old junior, said she and classmates are following the news reports and trying to make sure they have the correct information.

"We understand why it's a big deal, but we really just want people to calm down and look at the facts," she said.

Tinh said she was inspired by her father, a survivor of the Cambodian genocide of the 1970s who volunteered at a clinic where the injured were cared for. His work was dangerous, she said.

“He would tell me stories of what he would do and it just seemed really fascinating to me,” she said. “And that's what really pushed me to go into a health profession.”

She and other students said they thought that they were being prepared to protect themselves and that, panic aside, the disease in the United States was being controlled.

“You just need to be smart about it and take the proper steps and just think about what you're going in to,” said Jumper, who plans to work in neonatal care after serving in the U.S. Air Force.

Clark A. Jones, Jumper’s microbiology professor, said that each year he began his course with “The Hot Zone,” reading an excerpt at the start of the first class. It provides an excellent description of epidemiology and shows how agencies such as the Centers for Disease Control Prevention in Atlanta and the U.S. Army work together in public health emergencies, he said.

“It’s been an amazing book to always use,” Jones said. “Did I ever foresee that we would see something like this? Well, we talk about it a lot, especially as the book ends with HIV …a major virus that has affected our world.”

His students have asked about droplet transmission — when a virus is transmitted through fluids as Ebola is — as opposed to airborne transmission, and they understand why the nurses were so much more at risk of infection than Duncan’s fiancee and her family, he said. After reading “The Hot Zone,” they knew the danger of a “Level 4 hot agent” like Ebola and questioned why the protection gear being worn by the Dallas health-care workers as recommended by the CDC in Atlanta seemed inadequate, he said.

“Our students were really surprised,” he said.

Since Pham and the other nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, became infected, the CDC has announced a series of measures to better protect health-care workers, the most recent change coming on Monday, when it issued stricter guidelines for protective equipment worn by the workers. The CDC is now calling for gear that covers the workers’ bodies completely, with face shields, hoods and boot covers, and for trained monitors to supervise them as they put it on and remove it.

Also, on Tuesday, Texas Gov. Rick Perry said that the state would create two new biocontainment facilities for treating patients with Ebola and other contagious diseases. Pham and Vinson are now hospitalized at two of the country’s four biocontainment hospitals specially equipped to handle infectious diseases, Pham at the National Institutes of Health hospital in Bethesda, Maryland, and Vinson at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Suzy Lockwood, the director of undergraduate nursing studies at Texas Christian University’s Harris College of Nursing and Health Sciences, said the school’s students have always been made aware of the need to guard against infectious diseases.

She poined out that the Dallas nurses, in trying to better protect themselves, taped their gear closed, perhaps putting themselves at greater risk as they removed the tape. Some of the protective gear was too large for the nurses. Lockwood noted that Pham, whom she taught and described as very caring, thoughtful and smart, is also small. The CDC recommendation for monitors to watch health-care workers remove their gear is key, Lockwood said.

“We’re all in a living science experiment,” she said. “We’re learning so much. Unfortunately, Presbyterian, the hospital here, ended up being the hospital that got the patient. Any other hospital would have had the same, probably would have had the same experience — just a little bit different but would have had the same struggles that this hospital had. They wouldn’t have had any different equipment.”

Maddy Robinson, a 19-year-old who studied nursing before switching to education, said the Ebola cases at Texas Health Presbyterian showed the importance of nurses, something she had learned from her father, a plastic surgeon in Atlanta.

“We're not prepared for something like Ebola,” she said.

With Pham still hospitalized, students and staff at the Harris School of Nursing have started wearing purple and apricot ribbons as a show of support, purple for the university, apricot because it is the academic color for nursing. After homecoming this past weekend, alumni have been calling asking for them, Lockwood said.

“We’ve been sending ribbons all over the country,” she said.



Photo Credit: Getty Images / File Photo
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<![CDATA[NYC-Area Agencies' Ebola Plans]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 08:34:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_alerta_avion_ebola.jpg

As the first confirmed case of Ebola in New York City sparks concerns about the possibility of the spread of the virus, organizations and agencies across the tri-state say they have prepared for weeks in the case of a possible diagnosis.

Dr. Craig Spencer, 33, marks the city and the tri-state's first case of Ebola. The emergency room doctor had been working with Doctors Without Borders in Guinea to help treat Ebola victims there and returned to the area on Oct. 17.

Gov. Cuomo said New York has been operating for weeks under the assumption that the state will have a confirmed case of Ebola, and was prepared when Spencer was confirmed to have the virus Thursday, Oct. 23. 

Below is a list of the contingency and preparedness plans of several area agencies to protect employees and screen others for the virus.

Airports, Rails and Transportation

  • Both Newark and John F. Kennedy international airports are screening passengers who traveled from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea for the disease. Health care employees at those two airports are using no-touch thermometers to take passengers’ temperatures. About 95 percent of all passengers from those three countries initially land in either of those two airports or ones in Washington, Atlanta and Chicago.
  • Everyone traveling into the U.S. from the Ebola-stricken nations will be monitored for symptoms for 21 days. They're required to take their temperatures at least once daily and report it to health officials.
  • The Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, which runs JFK, Newark and LaGuardia airports along with several New Jersey-based mass transit systems, says it has given its first responders protective gear in the event they come in contact with someone exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms. Port Authority spokesman said the gear is “above and beyond anything required by the CDC and is done for the protection of our employees.”
  • The MTA has developed a contingency plan that includes more extensive cleanings during "sick passenger" delays. MTA Chief Thomas Prendergast said there is a protocol for removing infectious waste in the transit system; there are isolation areas and transit heads have met with labor unions to ensure consistent implementation of prevention efforts.
  • Cuomo said unannounced drills will be run, involving a sick passenger on a train, for example.

Emergency Response and Government

  • FDNY commissioner Daniel Nigro ordered its hazardous materials ambulance crews to treat all patients who are in stable condition but are suspected of having Ebola. If a patient’s life is in imminent danger, non-HAZMAT crews will still treat the patients. The FDNY is also distributing CDC-approved respirators and body suits to those crews.
  • The NYPD sent out an internal memo to 35,000 officers educating them on Ebola, law enforcement sources say.
  • Every member of the Nassau County Police Department, as well as 80 emergency personnel have personal protective gear to wear in the event they receive a call about a potential Ebola case. The suits had been purchased years ago to protect first responders from the effects of weapons of mass destruction and chemical warfare
  • The New York State Senate is fast-tracking legislation that would review all hospitals in the Empire State for Ebola preparedness. Legislators are also looking into using unused funds from the state’s coffers to purchase equipment to safely treat the disease.
  • Officials are planning a public service announcement campaign -- which could include social media and TV advertising -- to reassure New Yorkers that the disease is not easily transmittable and that there is no need to abandon the subway or schools.
  • Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy said he has established a command team to act as a central authority to deal with any Ebola cases. The team is led by Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewell Mullen and includes officials from state agencies for public safety, education, prison and environmental protection. Malloy has given Mullen authority to quarantine anyone who may have been exposed.
  • New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie signed an executive order to create a joint response team to oversee the state's response as officials begin screening passengers from West Africa for Ebola symptoms when they arrive at Newark Liberty International Airport.

Hospitals and Health Organizations

  • Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan has been designated as the city's primary hospital for treating Ebola patients. The hospital told the New York Times it can treat up to four Ebola patients at a time in a designated isolation ward.
  • The city Department of Health told WNYC that all 11 city hospitals are prepared for the virus and that actors have been going into area hospitals pretending to have Ebola symptoms to test each ER's response.
  • Statewide, Cuomo said eight hospitals with intensive training and protocols have been identified that will be used in the event of a confirmed or suspected case of Ebola. Employees at those hospitals will go through training and regular drills to maximize preparedness. Frontline responders are getting special training. "We are trying to train the entire system," while developing specialized capacity, the governor said.
  • New Jersey health officials said three hospitals in the state -- University Hospital in Newark, Hackensack Hospital in Hackensack and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick -- will be designated for cases where a patient is suspected to have Ebola.  
  • Hospitals across the region have been training employees on how to properly put on and take off protective suits and are conducting drills to prepare for a possible Ebola patient.
  • The New York Department of Health and Mental Health said in a news release that it is working with the Centers for Disease Control and other agencies to determine the best ways to prepare New York City and its hospitals for an Ebola diagnosis.
  • The New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health along with state nursing unions and organizations issued two fact sheets about the virus and are urging employers to educate workers on Ebola. Access the fact sheets here and here.

Other Organizations

  • The New York Giants emailed an NFL newsletter outlining basic facts about the virus to players and staff.
  • Rutgers University, NYU, colleges in the CUNY and SUNY and other higher-learning institutions in the area have posted informational bulletins about Ebola on their websites with facts about the disease and numbers for campus health centers on their websites.



Photo Credit: Facebook / Patrick Narvaez]]>
<![CDATA[Girl Found Dead at Shelter: Cops]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 06:55:19 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/Generic+Police+Tape+Generic.JPG

A 4-year-old girl was found dead at a Queens homeless shelter and authorities are classifying her death as "suspicious," police say.

Police found the child, identified as Linayjah Meraldo, after responding to a call at the Briarwood Family Residence, a temporary housing shelter for homeless families on 134th Street, on Thursday. The little girl's four siblings were in school when she was found; the child's mother said she kept the girl home because she wasn't feeling well, according to a source familiar with the case.

There were no other adults living in the unit where the mother and children were staying.

The mother initially told police Meraldo was involved in a physical altercation with a sibling -- "a tousling thing," she called it, according to the source. The source said the mother later said the child had fallen, and that the version of events she told investigators kept changing.

The little girl was last seen in the 100-unit shelter Thursday morning, the source said. The child was active and nobody noticed bruises or other injuries, according to the source.

The family has lived at Briarwood for nearly a year.

The Department of Health and Human Services called Meraldo's death "terribly disturbing." The agency said in a statement it was working closely with police.

The child's death comes less than a week after a 3-year-old girl was found dead in a homeless shelter in Brooklyn. The medical examiner ruled her death a homicide, saying the girl died from blunt impact to her head and torso. Her 20-year-old stepfather was arrested on a murder charge.

After the Brooklyn girl's death, Mayor de Blasio called for a thorough investigation. 



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA["Miracle Oil" Cures Girl's Seizures]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 23:03:38 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Glut+1+medicinal+oil.jpg

A North Texas family is touting a "miracle oil" and praising researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas for healing their little girl, who was having chronic seizures.

Spend a day with 6-year-old Chloe Olivarez and it is hard to keep up with her. Chloe's mother, Brandi Olivarez, says she never thought she would see this day.

"I don't even know that a year ago she would have been able to," Olivarez said.

Just two years ago, Brandi Olivarez had no idea what was wrong with her daughter. Video from Children's Health in Dallas shows doctors monitoring Chloe to figure out why she was having hundreds of seizures a day.

"We were looking at buying a wheelchair and diapers, because she wasn't able to be potty trained at that point," Brandi Olivarez said.

A helmet protected Chloe's head because she fell often.

"We were watching her go down this progressive slope, and she was just continually declining," Brandi Olivarez said.

Tests revealed Chloe had Glut 1 deficiency. That is a metabolic disease that depletes the brain of needed glucose, which makes most people unresponsive and slow to develop.

"It was kind of bittersweet. Finally understanding what she actually had, what we were fighting and the next step. It doesn't have a cure," Brandi Olivarez said.

But their timing was impeccable. Dr. Juan Pascual, a professor of pediatric neurology at UT Southwestern Medical Center, had just wrapped a groundbreaking study on mice with Glut 1, using an edible oil.

Pascual enrolled Chloe in his first human clinical trial, and within hours of ingesting the oil, her seizures started to subside.

"I had never seen anything like it," Pascual said.

"Speech was the first, other than seeing the seizure activity on the EEG, you could tell. She wasn't having seizures where she was hitting the floor anymore, and then speech was the next thing. Her speech, she immediately started using sentences," Brandi Olivarez said. "So then. with prolonged use, we have increased muscle tone. She's about to run a mile without stopping now."

The medicinal oil is derived from castor beans called Triheptanoin, which is used in many cosmetics in the United States. It has no smell and no taste.

All 14 participants in the study drank the oil four times a day in varying doses, and 70 percent of them saw a significant decline in seizures and improved neuropsychological performance.

The study is published in JAMA Neurology.

"Some days are very rough and some days are very happy, and I have to say that this was one of the happiest days of my life," Pascual said.

Chloe's family says watching her progress has been remarkable.

"We owe him everything. Now, we have a very vibrant, sassy little girl and I can't express my gratitude for everything they've done for us because it's been amazing to watch her," Brandi Olivarez said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Guidance Counselor Back to Work After Erotic "Slasher" Film Controversy]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 17:35:02 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/sage+park+middle+vnuk.jpg

A Connecticut middle school guidance counselor returned to work today after agreeing to stop making the erotic horror films that prompted school officials to place him on administrative leave earlier this month, according to the school system.

Aaron Vnuk, a counselor at Sage Park Middle School in Windsor, and Dr. Mark Foley, principal at Granby Memorial Middle School, are accused of using aliases to make independent horror movies featuring violence and nudity through their company Moongoyle Entertainment.

Vnuk was placed on administrative leave after school officials learned of the production company and began investigating.

Windsor Public Schools Supt. Dr. Craig Cooke sent a letter home to parents on Wednesday letting them know that Vnuk would return to work today.

"After a thorough investigation, we concluded that no students were involved in the films produced by the company, and the teacher's involvement was limited to outside of school hours," Cooke wrote in the letter. "Moreover, we have been assured that the teacher would have no involvement in the future production of any films of a similar nature."

Cooke posted a statement on the Sage Park Middle School Web site on Oct. 3 announcing Vnuk's suspension while school officials investigated. He assured parents that students were never at risk or in danger.

Foley was also placed on administrative leave after the allegations came to light. Tim Cunningham was appointed to serve as interim principal.

Neither Foley nor Vnuk responded to requests for comment.



Photo Credit: Sage Park Middle Schoo/NBCConnecticut.com
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<![CDATA[Ebola Patient's Fiancée Unable to Find New Home]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:43:55 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Troh+family+apartment+Dallas.jpg

The fiancée of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, has been unable to find a new home in Dallas, even though she was released from monitoring on Monday after showing no signs of the virus.

Louise Troh, her son and a nephew were quarantined at a Catholic Church camp in Oak Cliff, but they are still living there while they look for new housing.

Pastors at Troh's church, Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, have been trying to help her rent a home.

“We’re hopeful today. Things are looking better,” said the Rev. Mark Wingfield, associate pastor at Wilshire Baptist. “The last few days we’ve ended the day very disappointed in the way things have gone.”

Troh and her family left their unit at The Ivy Apartments in the Dallas Vickery Meadow neighborhood when workers in hazardous materials suits were decontaminating the place.

Family possessions were removed and incinerated as a precaution against spreading the disease.

Thomas Eric Duncan stayed in the apartment before being admitted on Sept. 28 to isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where he later died.

“You can imagine your own residence, and you were taken out of it, and everything in it was destroyed and you’ve got to start over again,” Wingfield said.

Experts say Troh and her family pose no threat to anyone, and they have nothing from the old apartment to bring to a new one. Still, that has not satisfied landlords to whom Wingfield has spoken.

“One larger complex in the area we talked to said we just don’t need any publicity out of this, and she’s welcome to fill out an application, but if she does it will not be approved,” Wingfield said.

Non-profit organizations serving other families in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood are facing difficulty operating programs since many volunteers are refusing to work in the area where an Ebola patient was, according to Laura Ward, with the Dallas Foundation.

“They're understaffed. They are short on volunteers. There have just been all kinds of needs that have come up in the community and for the non-profits as the result of something unexpected,” Ward said.

The Dallas Foundation is helping the other organizations return to normal.

“We've been overwhelmed by the number of people who come forward in our community and said, 'How can I help?'” Ward said.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is working with Wilshire Baptist on finding a new home for Troh and her family.

“It is challenging,” Rawlings said. “And that’s why we as a community have got to be sure we understand the science and the medicine behind this so she can be welcomed back into a community and pick up her life again.”

The mayor said he is encouraged by the number of possible contacts leaving the watch list with no symptoms.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that 66 contacts have now completed a 21-day monitoring period disease-free and 108 are still being monitored. All possible contacts will be released Nov. 7.

“You see me knocking on wood right now, everyday. That’s what I do,” Rawlings said.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Medical Records Stolen: Police]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 19:09:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/doctor-health-generic-1200-021.jpg

Medical records pertaining to about 40,000 patients over nearly two decades were stolen from a doctor's office in New Jersey earlier this week, authorities say.

Police say Nisar Quraishi, a general practitioner with more than 40 years of experience and offices in Jersey City and Manhattan, reported Tuesday that someone had cut through latches on a storage locker at his Jersey City office on Chopin Court and stolen the documents.

Quraishi told police a resident in the neighborhood called him to tell him the shed door was open, and when Quraishi went to check it out, he found all of his medical records from 1982-2009 were missing.

The stolen boxes had personal information, including social security numbers and home addresses, of about 40,000 patients he had treated and may still be treating, he told police.

Quraishi, who is also a clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone , told police he hadn't been to the storage shed since mid-August, at which point it was still locked. He said he had "no idea" who may have broken in, and he couldn't say whose information was stolen.

Police said there were no security cameras in the area.  

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<![CDATA[Company Paid Workers $1.21 An Hour]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:47:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/1022-2014-EFI.jpg

A Bay Area tech company has been slapped with a fine and ordered to pay thousands of dollars in back wages after a United States Department of Labor investigation revealed the company paid workers $1.21 an hour.

The Labor Department said about eight employees of Fremont-based Electronics For Imaging were flown in from India and worked 120-hour weeks to help with the installation of computers at the company's headquarters. The employees were paid their regular hourly wage in Indian rupees, which translated to $1.21.

EFI, which posted third-quarter revenue of nearly $200 million, released the following statement on Thursday: "During this process we unintentionally overlooked laws that require even foreign employees to be paid based on local US standards."

Last year, another company, Bloom Energy in Sunnyvale, faced similar charges and was fined for underpaying employees from Mexico an hourly wage of $2.66.

Federal officials said both cases are particularly egregious, given the booming labor market and the wealth in Silicon Valley.

"It is certainly outrageous and unacceptable for employers here in Silicon Valley to bring workers and pay less than the minimum wage," said Alberto Raymond, an assistant district director for the United States Department of Labor.

EFI has been ordered to pay $40,000 in back wages to the employees. In addition, the company was hit with a $3,500 fine.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[Superhero Costume Scuffle]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:12:34 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/10-23-14_hollywood+blvd+costume+superhero+fight.jpg

A violent encounter between costumed superhero characters ended with Mr. Incredible slamming Batgirl on the sidewalk of Hollywood Boulevard in a fight caught on camera.

It was unclear what set off the altercation Tuesday in front of the TCL Chinese Theatre at Hollywood and Highland, and by the time police showed up no witnesses or victims were on scene.

In the video costumed Chewbacca and Waldo try to hold back Mr. Incredible as he grabs at a woman dressed as Batgirl, eventually throwing her to the ground on the crowded sidewalk. People watching nearby lunge toward the man after the slam, but no further violence appears to take place.

A man dressed as Spiderman said the sidewalk, filled with celebrity impersonators and people dressed as superheroes, is fiercely competitive as the characters collect money for photos with tourists.

“No one has respect for each other out here … it’s do or die,” he said. “Literally, everyone is feeding themselves.”

No arrests have been made. Los Angeles police are investigating the case.



Photo Credit: www.filmon.com]]>
<![CDATA[Man's Ashes Launched Into Space]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:04:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tlmd_shutterstock_tormenta6.jpg

The ashes of a Maine man that have been scattered all over the world by strangers who connected with his mother on social media are now being launched into space.

Using her Facebook page, Auburn resident Hallie Twomey has mailed hundreds of packets of her son C.J.'s ashes to people willing to scatter them on beaches, mountains and other places he didn't get to visit before he died four years ago.

On Thursday morning, a vial of C.J.'s ashes will take a new journey when it is launched in a rocket from the New Mexico desert. The rocket will spend a few minutes in space before landing in the White Sands Missile Range.

The roughly $1,000 memorial spaceflight is being paid for by Celestis, the company that arranged the launch.



Photo Credit: Shutterstock]]>
<![CDATA[Trooper Killer Suspect Mistaken ID]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:53:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/206*120/james+tully+eric+frein+lookalike.JPG

A northeastern Pennsylvania resident said he's been stopped and questioned more than 20 times by authorities who have mistaken him for a man sought in the killing of a state trooper, including one encounter at gunpoint that left him fearing for his life.

James Tully, 39, of Canadensis, said he wears his ID prominently around his neck as he walks to work each day through the wooded area where authorities are looking for Eric Frein. Nevertheless, he said he was once stopped about seven times in a single day.

"I'm worried about what is going to happen with the next one," Tully told the Pocono Record. "Is he going to shoot first and ask questions later?"

Trooper Tom Kelly, a state police spokesman, said Thursday the agency will investigate any formal complaint about alleged mistreatment. No such complaint has been filed, Kelly said.

Police have been searching for Frein in the woods around Canadensis since an ambush outside their barracks Sept. 12 left one state trooper dead and another seriously wounded. Authorities describe Frein, who grew up in the area, as a self-taught survivalist and expert marksman who hates law enforcement.

Not many people travel by foot in the rural region, which is filled with winding two-lane roads. Tully, a father of two, said he walks five miles each way to his job at a metal manufacturing company because he doesn't own a car. He carries a backpack, which police believe Frein has also done.

On Oct. 17, Tully said he was walking home when a driver in tactical gear pulled over, pointed a rifle at him and forced him down on the ground, putting a knee in his back. Tully said the man never identified himself, but let him go after another officer appeared and vouched for Tully.

"This guy apparently had delusions of grandeur that he would be the one to catch Frein," said Tully's father, Bob Tully. "We completely commiserate with the police, but this guy went full commando on my son."

James Tully said he went to the hospital and was diagnosed with bruised ribs. He now wears a reflective vest that he hopes will help identify him as someone not trying to hide from police.

"The one they're hunting for, he's not going to stand out. He's going to try and blend in," Tully told WNEP-TV. "I want to stand out so I can let them know ... I'm not the one they're looking for. Just let me go on my way."

A woman created a GoFundMe crowdfunding account to buy Tully a car and had raised more than $7,800 by Thursday afternoon.

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<![CDATA[Texas Hearing on Ebola Preparedness]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 13:13:58 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ebola-task-force-hearing.jpg

The newly-formed Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response held its first public hearing in the State Capitol.

At the 9 a.m. hearing, task force members focused on medical and public health preparedness for the initial identification and isolation of patients with Ebola or similar high-consequence infectious diseases, officials said.

Officials said that Thomas Eric Duncan could have walked into any hospital, so all hospitals must be prepared to handle an Ebola patient.

Task Force members heard invited testimony from witnesses representing professions and institutions involved in infectious disease identification and response. The main issues they discussed were internal communication, enhanced diagnostic screening and training for medical staff.

Speakers thanksed nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who tested positive for Ebola after treating Duncan. Texas Department of Health Services Dr. David Lakey, in particular, said it takes genuine bravery to care for someone with Ebola.

Texas Governor Rick Perry created the 15-member task force comprised of experts in infectious disease and public health, biodefense leaders and other state agency professionals Oct. 6. The group is charged with development of recommendations and a comprehensive state plan to ensure that Texas is prepared for the potential of emerging infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus, and can provide the rapid response needed to effectively protect the safety and well-being of citizens.



Photo Credit: NBC 5 News]]>
<![CDATA[Victim Told Family: "Look For Me in An Abandoned House"]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 06:42:49 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Kristine-Williams.jpg

The father of a victim of the suspected serial killer in Northwest Indiana says his daughter told a relative before she was murdered, “If I ever go missing, look for me in an abandoned house.”

Bruce Williams said his daughter, Kristine Williams, who was one of seven women found slain over the weekend, was dating her alleged killer, Darren Deon Vann.

Vann, 43, allegedly confessed to the murder of a 19-year-old woman in Hammond, Indiana over the weekend, then led police to the bodies of six other women in abandoned homes Gary, Indiana.

Williams is one of four women identified in the killings so far and the Lake County Coroner suspects she was likely killed about a year ago. The coroner’s office is still seeking the public’s help in identifying the remaining victims.

Bruce Williams told NBC Chicago Wednesday that his daughter was afraid of Vann. He said he saw news reports about the first victims identified and received a call the next day that his daughter was among them.

Bruce Williams said the shock of his only daughter’s death is slowly turning to bitterness.

"She wasn’t an angel, but she didn’t deserve this," he said.

Vann was charged in the murder of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy Monday and was charged Wednesday in the murder of Anith Jones, a 35-year-old Merrillville resident whose body was found late Saturday night.

Earlier Wednesday, Vann was ordered held in contempt of court when he refused to utter a word to the judge during his initial court appearance in the Hardy case.


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<![CDATA[What It Means If You See a Teal Pumpkin]]> Fri, 24 Oct 2014 05:54:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/NC-teal-pumpkins.jpg 10/22/14: Parents are encouraging houses offering non-food treats to display teal pumpkins so children with allergies will know it's safe to stop. Erika Edwards reports.]]> <![CDATA[10 Infamous American Serial Killers]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:43:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/serial-killers.jpg From the “Son of Sam” and “Zodiac” killers to John Wayne Gacy and Dr. Henry Howard Holmes, here is list of notorious serial killer cases in American history. ]]> <![CDATA[Famed Painting Mystery Swirls Around NYC Restaurant]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 14:02:17 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/nighthawk+diner.jpg

Artist Edward Hopper's famous "Nighthawks" painting has had admirers speculating for years whether the diner depicted was inspired by a real-life eatery, and one Greenwich Village restaurant owner is convinced he knows the answer.

Fiko Uslu, owner of the newly opened Classic's Cafe at Greenwich and Christopher streets, says he's so sure the space was the setting for the classic 1942 painting that he wants to rename the restaurant Nighthawks.

"We did a lot of research, a lot of legal paperwork," he said. "I don't want to get anything wrong."

The painting shows an all-night diner in which three customers are seated, lost in their own thoughts, under an "eerie glow," according to a description on the Art Institute of Chicago website.

Classic's Cafe manager, Alex Vigro, said they never thought about a connection until a mystery man named Mark stopped by last week and pointed out some similarities.

"These windows right there, the view in front of us, they still remain the same," he said. "The corner, I think everything, the design, everything is really similar."

It's not the only location that has been suggested as the inspiration for Hopper's painting, which hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago. A building housing what is now a flower shop is one of at least three Greenwich Avenue locations frequently discussed, and it's not lost on local residents.

"Certainly the shape of this building with the windows, and the way it comes to a peak, potentially," said Cynthia Kueppers.

Blogger Jeremiah Moss has chronicled his journey to find the real-life Nighthawks diner, writing in a 2010 New York Times op-ed piece that city folklore has suggested that Mulry Square -- a triangular lot at Greenwich Avenue and Seventh Avenue South -- was the site of the diner. His research found that it couldn't be the case because a gas station stood there from the 1930s to the 1970s.

Hopper himself has said the painting was inspired by a "restaurant on Greenwich Avenue where two streets meet," according to the Art Institute of Chicago, but never got more specific than that.

Carter Foster, the curator of drawing for the Whitney Museum, which has 2,500 drawings donated by the artist's widow, making it one of the largest Hopper collections anywhere, said the painting was probably influenced by multiple locations on the avenue.

"There were three corners on Greenwich Avenue, not Greenwich Street, where Hopper walked by frequently that were roughly the same shape as the diner in 'Nighthawks,' and I think those were the inspiration in a very general way, as was the tip of the Flatiron building," said Foster.

The artist with the answers died in 1967, leaving behind his painting and the speculation that goes along with it.


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<![CDATA[RAW: Costumed Superheroes Brawl on Hollywood Blvd]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 12:49:59 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/102314_hollywoodblvdcostumesuperherofight.jpg A fight caught on camera shows costumed character Mr. Incredible slamming Batgirl to the ground.]]> <![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Charged in Second Death]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 21:29:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren+Deon+Vann+new.jpg

A second round of murder charges were filed Wednesday against a registered sex offender suspected in the deaths of at least seven women whose bodies were found over the last weekend.

Darren Deon Vann, 43, was charged in the death of Anith Jones, a 35-year-old Merrillville resident whose body was found late Saturday night. Her family had reported her missing on Oct. 8.


Vann was charged Monday in connection with the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy.

Earlier Wednesday, Vann was ordered held in contempt of court when he refused to utter a word to the judge during his initial court appearance in the Hardy case.

"He will stay in jail for the rest of his life until this hearing takes place," Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivanwas said before putting the case on hold until Oct. 29 and agreeing to a defense motion for a gag order.

"See you in a week," she said.

Vann was then taken back to his jail cell, which is away from the general population and where he is under 24-hour watch from personnel.

Authorities said Vann, of Gary, opened up about previous crimes once he was arrested in connection with the Hardy case and helped police find six other bodies. By Wednesday morning, just three of those six had been positively identified: Jones, 28-year-old Teairra Batey, and 36-year-old Kristine Williams.

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey on Tuesday asked for the public's help in identifying two of the women who were recovered over the weekend. Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Coroner’s Office at 219-755-3265.



Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office
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<![CDATA[Cop in Racially Charged Rant Fired]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:26:50 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Lyga.JPG

A veteran Los Angeles Police Department detective who once fatally shot a fellow officer and was heard on a recording making light of the killing has been fired, his attorney said Wednesday.

Frank Lyga was released from duty, his attorney Ira Salzman said, after Chief Charlie Beck signed a termination order Tuesday.

"We were not given an opportunity to appeal the termination," Salzman told NBC4.

The detective "is no longer an LAPD employee," Cmdr. Andrew Smith told the Associated Press.

Lyga had been assigned to home in June after the recording surfaced.

In the recording, Lyga, who as an undercover narcotics detective in 1997 fatally shot a black LAPD officer who was off duty, can be heard saying, "I could have killed a whole truckload of them and would have happily done that."

Lyga apologized, saying,"I can't talk about this. My only comment is: I made some inappropriate comments. I regret what I said. I embarrassed myself and my department and for that I am sorry."

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, did comment Wednesday on Lyga's release from duty.

It previously defended Lyga in a statement, saying, "When one listens to the tape in context, it is clear that Detective Lyga was not celebrating the killing of anybody," the statement said. "Although we do not support the denigration of any person, or group of persons, if there is a news interest here, it is far larger than improper remarks by a detective who 17 years later is still being asked about an experience he lived through that would deeply affect any of us."

Seventeen years ago, while working undercover, Lyga shot to death an off-duty officer, Kevin Gaines. The LAPD concluded it was a road-rage situation and that Gaines had threatened Lyga.

Jason Kandel and Beverly White contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Nurse Amber Vinson No Longer Has Ebola: Family]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 11:13:47 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/ambervinson.jpg

Dallas nurse Amber Vinson no longer has signs of Ebola in her blood, her family said Wednesday, one week after she was hospitalized at an Atlanta hospital with the potentially deadly virus.

Vinson will be transferred into a different unit at Emory University Hospital and is still being treated in the serious communicable diseases unit, the family said.

"Amber and our family are ecstatic to receive this latest report on her condition," her mother Debra Barry said, saying the news had "truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home."

Vinson, 29, was the second Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital nurse to fall ill with the virus after treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the disease in the United States. Duncan died Oct. 8.

Her coworker Nina Pham, who also contracted the virus after treating Duncan, remains hospitalized in good condition at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

It is still unclear how exactly both nurses contracted the virus.

Vinson had worn protective gear including face shields, hazardous materials suits and protective footwear as she inserted catheters, drew blood and dealt with Duncan's body fluids. She worked on the three days in late September when Duncan was producing "extensive" diarrhea and vomit.

Vinson was hospitalized on Tuesday, Oct. 14, one day after she returned to Dallas from a trip to Ohio to plan her wedding and visit family. She was diagnosed with Ebola one day after she was hospitalized.

Vinson's family has defended her decision to fly home to Dallas the day before she fell ill with Ebola, saying that she made the decision in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and with guidance from her own hospital.

She had been cleared by the CDC to fly just before she boarded the flight, the CDC said last week, hours after the CDC chief told reporters she should not have flown.



Photo Credit: Vinson Family / NBC 5 News
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<![CDATA[Robbers Shoot Man in the Face]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 01:56:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Man-Drives-Himself-to-Hospi.jpg

A man managed to drive himself to the hospital after he was shot in the face while chasing down two robbers in the Feltonville section of the city, according to investigators.

The 34-year-old man lives above the Los Muchachos barbershop on the 4300 block of North 5th Street.  According to investigators, two robbers entered the shop shortly after 8 p.m. and stole $800 from three barbers and their customers who were inside.

As the suspects fled the scene, the 34-year-old man began to chase after them. One of the suspects then took out a gun and opened fire, striking the man in the right side of his face, according to police.

Police told NBC10 the victim managed to drive himself to Temple University Hospital despite the gunshot wound. He is currently in critical but stable condition.

No arrests have been made. Police have not yet released a description of the suspects.
 



Photo Credit: NBC10.com]]>
<![CDATA[Crowd Attacks Driver Who Struck Boy]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 09:30:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/141022-ice-cream-truck-crash-south-la.jpg

An angry crowd attacked an ice cream truck driver who ran over and killed a 7-year-old boy riding a bicycle in South Los Angeles on Wednesday night, police said.

The boy was rushed to the hospital in grave condition after he apparently fell underneath the truck about 7:15 p.m. near his home in the 200 block of 97th Street (map), the Los Angeles Police Department said.

"He was riding an electronic bike right next to the ice cream truck, apparently he may have slipped, got caught up underneath the truck, the rear wheels rolled over him," Sgt. Timothy Colson said.

A crowd then went after the driver, throwing bricks and sticks and possibly pulling a knife on him, Colson said.

The driver suffered bruises and was treated at the scene. Police initially reported that the driver had been taken to the hospital, but later said he was taken to a police station for his safety.

The boy's uncle, Michael Harris, said his nephew and his older brother were heading home at the time of the crash.

“I don’t know what I’m going to tell my brother. His son is dead,” Harris said. “They say it was an accident but I don’t believe that. I don’t believe that one bit, none at all.”

Harris said his nephews and the boy's mother may have been involved in the attack.

"She has every right to," Harris said.

Robert Kovacik contributed to this report.

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<![CDATA[Teacher Accused of Sex With Student on First Day Pleads Not Guilty]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 19:18:41 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/257*120/2014-10-22_1223_001.png

A substitute teacher in D.C. accused of having sex with a student on her first day at the school pleaded not guilty.

Symone Greene, 22, was working at Options Public Charter School in Northeast D.C. on Friday when she first met the victim, a 17-year-old football player, according to court documents.

The student told police he was working as an office assistant and helped Green twice that day in her English class. The student says he flirted with Greene during class, gave her his cell phone number, and later received a text message from her.

While the student did not recall the exact contents of their messages, he said he did ask if she was "kinky."

She allegedly responded, 'I don't tell[;] I show," court documents state.

Toward the end of the school's pep rally that day, the teen went to Greene's classroom, where she allegedly performed oral sex behind the teacher's desk. The victim recorded the sex act and later shared the video with his teammates and a childhood friend.

Greene allegedly sent the teen a text message over the weekend asking him not to tell anyone.

"When school administrators learned of the incident Monday morning, we immediately contacted the Child and Family Services Agency, the Metropolitan Police Department, and the parent of the student," Shannon Hodge, the school's executive director, said in a statement.

Greene has been charged with first-degree sexual assault against a minor in a significant relationship.

Although the age of consent in D.C. is 16, Greene was charged because she was the teen's teacher. According to D.C. law, age-of-consent rules are not in play in when it comes to "significant relationships," which include teachers and their students.

Greene had a court date Wednesday, where she pleaded not guilty and was ordered to stay away from the vicitm, minors and Options Public Charter School. 

Hodge said Greene was contracted through a company based in Delaware and had never worked at the school before.


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<![CDATA[SoCal Doc Accused of Taking Nude Pics of Patients: Suit ]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 20:47:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Volunteers-in-Medicine-1021.jpg

An El Cajon doctor is accused of having more than a thousand images of naked female patients on his work cellphone, according to court documents in a lawsuit filed by a former patient.

The plaintiff in the San Diego lawsuit claims she was seen by Dr. Jeffrey Abrams on January 4 at the Volunteers in Medicine Free Medical Clinic on East Madison Avenue.

The uninsured woman, who went to the free clinic with belly button pain, claims Abrams told her take off all her clothes then inserted his gloved finger into her vagina and asked "You have pain?"

Then, she claims he had her stand in front of him, pushed her hair away from her exposed breasts, pulled out a cellphone and took five pictures of her.

Attorney Jessica Pride says her client reported the incident to authorities because she didn’t want any other patient to go through the same experience. A subsequent search of his clinic uncovered more that 1,300 additional photos on his work cellphone, according to court documents.

“We were both surprised to hear that she was not the only one,” Pride said.

Many of the 1,300 explicit photos showed women’s vaginas, breasts and buttocks, documents alleged.

There was one explicit photo of a very young girl and video of a patient touching herself in the exam room with Abrams, the documents allege.

NBC 7 has attempted to reach Abrams for comment but has not received a response.

When NBC 7 called to see if the San Diego County District Attorney's Office was investigating potential criminal charges, a spokesperson for the DA declined to comment on pending investigations.

Maureen Hartin, CEO of Volunteers in Medicine, issued a statement Wednesday calling the allegations “very troubling.”

Hartin said one of the center's volunteer medical providers has been put on an immediate leave of absence while the California Medical Board investigates.

She added that the allegations “certainly are not a reflection” on the staff at the health care facility, the only free medical clinic in the East County.

The nonprofit center cared for 3,000 patients last year, providing them with medical visits, imaging and lab tests according to the organization’s statement.

Abrams is currently licensed to practice medicine in the state of California and is an Internal Medicine and Endocrinology specialist.

According to the Department of Consumer Affairs, Abrams has held a medical license since 1974 and has no disciplinary actions or malpractice judgments filed with the state.

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<![CDATA[War of the Words: Battle Heats Up Between SF, KC Librarians]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:07:42 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Juan+Marichal+and+Dan+by+Jim+Hart.jpg

The war of words is heating up between two public libraries 1,500 miles apart, as dueling librarians do their part to boost their hometown baseball team's quest to win the World Series crown.

Sounding a bit Shakespearean, Liesl Christman, the Twitter czar for the Kansas City Public Library, tweeted on Wednesday morning, hours after the San Francisco Giants crushed the Royals in Game 1 on Tuesday, 7-1: "'Tis but a flesh wound - @Royals will rally! Tonight, #LetsThrowFire!"

If the Giants win it all, Christman promised Wednesday her library will buy and shelve San Rafael author Dan Fost's book, "The Giants Baseball Experience: A Year-by-Year Chronicle from New York to San Francisco."

If the Royals win, Christman hopes the San Francisco Public Library will be forced to stock George Brett's "From Here to Cooperstown," which is about the Royals, on its shelves.

Michelle Jeffers, the digital guru at the library in San Francisco, said she'd consider the request, but from what's she's heard, that book is out of print.

"Even better!" Jeffers joked, adding that under different circumstances she and Christman might be very good friends.

Then Jeffers tweeted: "Guess we'll see what happens tonight when the Giants shhhhhhh-ut you down in Game 2."

No one is happier about the librarian smack talk than Fost, a former San Francisco Chronicle reporter who is now a full-time author and freelance writer. Each time the Giants make it to the World Series – this is third time in five seasons – he is asked to write a new edition. "This is a mutually symbiotic relationship," he said on Wednesday.

As for the baseball book bet, Fost is also genuinely enthralled Kansas City readers may be flipping through pages he wrote.

"What a great idea to promote reading," he said. "I'm so moved."



Photo Credit: Jim Hart
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<![CDATA[Ebola Patient Nina Pham's Dog Tests Negative for Virus]]> Thu, 23 Oct 2014 18:27:16 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Bentley-Playing-Vid.JPG

The test results are in and Ebola patient Nina Pham's dog, Bentley, has tested negative for the virus.

The City of Dallas posted a YouTube video featuring an interview with one of the vets caring for Pham's dog and video of Bentley playing with a new toy fox.

A team of specially-trained veterinarians started testing the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel for the virus Monday, sending samples from his waste to a lab.

Dallas Animal Services has been carrying for Bentley in isolation. To date, he has been healthy and still shows no symptoms of the virus.

The city of Dallas tweeted new pictures Wednesday and said they'll run one more test before the end of a 21-day quarantine period. Bentley will remain in isolation until Nov. 1.

Pham is one of two nurses who fell ill with the potentially deadly virus after caring for Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan at a Dallas hospital. She is currently receiving treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland. On Tuesday, doctors there said her condition has been upgraded from fair to good. There is no word on when she will be released.

The city of Dallas said Pham gets daily updates on her dog.

In response to the outpouring of support around the world for Bentley, the city of Dallas partnered with Dallas Companion Animal Project to establish the Dallas Pet Emergency Transition Services (PETS) fund. The donations will help Bentley and other pets in similar emergency situations in the future.

To donate visit DallasAnimals.org and click "You Can Help" or CLICK HERE to donate to the Dallas PETS (Pet Emergency Transition Services) Fund.



Photo Credit: Dallas City Hall via YouTube
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<![CDATA[Suspected Serial Killer Gives Judge Silent Treatment]]> Wed, 22 Oct 2014 15:20:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/Darren+Deon+Vann+new.jpg

A man charged with killing a sex worker and suspected in the deaths of at least six other women was held in contempt of court Wednesday when he refused to utter a word to the judge during his initial court appearance.

Darren Deon Vann, 43, sat silently as Magistrate Judge Kathleen Sullivan attempted to put Vann under oath during a hearing at the Lake County (Indiana) Jail.

"He will stay in jail for the rest of his life until this hearing takes place," Sullivan was heard saying before putting the case on hold until Oct. 29 and agreeing to a defense motion for a gag order.

"See you in a week," she said.

Vann, of Gary, was charged with murder and robbery in connection with the strangulation death of 19-year-old Afrikka Hardy in Hammond. Once arrested, officials said Vann opened up about other crimes and told them where six more bodies could be found.

Wednesday's hearing was in connection to the Hardy case. Vann has not been charged with the other homicides, and Lake County Sheriff John Buncich said Vann can't be arraigned on any other crimes because of the judge's contempt of court order.


Buncich added that Vann had previously been cooperative during questioning but was apparently upset about the number of media personnel present and about the fact that his first appearance was in the jail and not a regular courtroom.

"His demeanor today changed," Buncich said.

Investigators from the Gary Police Department were to get an opportunity to speak with Vann alone after the court appearance but the judge's order now means they can't approach him for questioning.

By Wednesday morning, just three of the six bodies Vann helped police find in Gary had been positively identified: 35-year-old Anith Jones, 28-year-old Teairra Batey, and 36-year-old Kristine Williams.

Lake County Coroner Merrilee Frey on Tuesday asked asking for the public's help in identifying two of the women who were recovered over the weekend. Anyone with information is asked to call the Lake County Coroner’s Office at 219-755-3265.



Photo Credit: Lake County Sheriff's Office
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