A Collection of 18 Statements on the New York City Ebola Case

De Blasio Conference

Pic via The New York City Mayor’s Office

There’s really no way you could have missed today’s biggest news: a doctor who had been treating Ebola patients in Guinea was diagnosed with the virus after returning to his home in Manhattan.

After the news broke, a flurry of official responses were issued by every entity from the hospital where Doctor Craig Spencer worked to the bowling alley he visited on Wednesday night before he came down with symptoms.

This is a very serious matter despite the many jokes that filled our Twitter feed last night and this morning. But reviewing all these disparate statements (some formal, some anything but) makes for an excellent case study in uncoordinated responses to a major crisis.

First, the official statements. From the city of New York itself via Mayor Bill de Blasio:

From the mayor’s office:

From Governor Andrew Cuomo:

The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene:

The Department’s Commissioner:

Unnamed “health officials”:

The Department of Health and Human Services via Yahoo:

“Ebola is a dangerous disease, but there is hardly a reason for panic,” Dr. Nicole Lurie, assistant HHS secretary for preparedness and response, said in prepared testimony. “There is an epidemic of fear, but not of Ebola, in the United States.”

The CDC:

The White House:

While this one is not technically a communication from President Obama, it’s still worth noting that he officially “recognizes” the city’s preparations. The proof is in the photo:

Doctors Without Borders, the organization Spencer represented in Guinea:

“As soon as he developed a fever, the MSF staff member was immediately isolated and referred to Bellevue Hospital. As long as a patient hasn’t developed symptoms, the risk of contagion is close to zero. Ebola is not an airborne virus like the flu. It is only transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids, such as blood or vomit.

The circumstances under which the staff member contracted Ebola have not yet been determined. A thorough investigation is underway by MSF, under standard management procedures for such events.”

New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Columbia University Medical Center, the hospital where he worked:

“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.”

Dr. Irwin Redlener, the director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University:

“New York has mobilized not only a world-class health department, but has full engagement of many other agencies that need to be on the response team.”

And now things start to get a little crazy.

Uber, whose service he used to travel back to his home in Manhattan on Wednesday night:

CNN, which somehow found a way to gather an entire panel of “Ebola experts”:

Whoever this New York Daily News source was:

The Gutter, the Brooklyn bowling alley he visited on Wednesday, which cancelled the concerts scheduled for Thursday night:

“To all our customers, we sincerely apologize for any inconvenience…Closing today was simply a precautionary measure.

We are working with the NYC Health Department to have the bar cleaned and sanitized under their supervision and expect to be open sometime today after that is completed. Doctors advising the Health Department have told us that our staff and customers were at no risk.”

(and a picture of press gathering outside this morning):

Brooklyn Bowl, the business he did not visit on Wednesday:

Questlove of The Roots (yes, really):

A few conspicuously absent groups: the World Health Organization, the MTA, whose subways the doctor rode, and the NYPD. The latter is especially relevant after this picture went live:

We’re sure we missed a few, but the point is that the messaging remains chaotic. Communicating in such a real-time crisis situation is a tough job…even for Burson-Marsteller.


@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.
Publish date: October 24, 2014 https://stage.adweek.com/digital/a-collection-of-17-statements-on-the-new-york-ebola-case/ © 2020 Adweek, LLC. - All Rights Reserved and NOT FOR REPRINT
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