New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he's "as confident as one can be" about the protocols taken by health care workers handling the nation's newest Ebola patient in the country's most populous city.
“We have been preparing literally for weeks on a coordinated effort plan between New York City, New York state, federal government," he said about the way workers handled the case of Dr. Craig Spencer, who was diagnosed with Ebola Thursday night. Spencer recently returned from West Africa where he treated Ebola patients.
The governor said state and local officials had just completed training with 5,000 health care workers to handle the scenario and were ready when Spencer arrived at New York's Bellevue Hospital. They have since been in contact with federal officials, the White House and top administration officials.
"All the procedures [from] there on were exactly according to the book. The first responders did a magnificent job, the health care workers did a magnificent job. So everything has happened the way it should happen since then," Cuomo said.
Dr. Natalie Azar, a clinical professor at New York University's Langone Medical Center, tried to assuage city residents worried they may have traveled along the same subway lines as Spencer before he became symptomatic. The chance of transmitting Ebola via casual contact in public transportation is "as close to zero as possible," she said.
"The scenario of catching Ebola in a subway would require that a patient infected with Ebola is so sick that they’re actually vomiting, bleeding, having diarrhea — and that you’re standing next to the person, you touch their bodily fluid, and you then have a portal of entry in your own body," she said.
Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American to be successfully treated for Ebola in the United States, also urged calm among panicked city residents learning about the case.
"The average New Yorker — and the average American for that matter — is at no risk of getting Ebola. We need to replace irrational fear with courage and compassion, and we need to focus our attention on stopping Ebola in West Africa," he said in a note he shared exclusively with NBC.
Brantly, medical missions advisor for the organization Samaritan's Purse, said he was “grieved to hear about another health care worker contracting Ebola in West Ebola.” He offered his prayers for Spencer and his friends and family and expressed confidence that New York officials have acted appropriately.
"I hope the people of New York can likewise set an example for the rest of the country by handling this event with reason and calm instead of panic," he said.