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The latest on the Ebola crisis

In this image released by Nebraska Medical Center, critical care doctor, Dr. Craig Piquette shakes hands with Ashoka Mukpo, an American video journalist who has recovered from Ebola, as he was released from Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit, Wednesday, Oct. 22, 2014, in Omaha, Neb.

AP Photo/Nebraska Medical Center, Taylor Wilson

Last Updated Oct 22, 2014 11:05 PM EDT

With numerous stories about the worldwide Ebola outbreak affecting the U.S. and dozens of countries overseas, here's the most recent news about the disease:

Video journalist heads home after successful Ebola treatment

An American video journalist who recovered from Ebola at an Omaha hospital left the facility Wednesday afternoon and is heading home to Rhode Island, a hospital spokesman said.

Ashoka Mukpo, who contracted the virus while working in Liberia as a freelance cameraman for NBC and other media outlets, was released from the Nebraska Medical Center's biocontainment unit around 9 a.m. He spent several hours meeting with staff members who treated him and left the hospital complex in the afternoon, spokesman Taylor Wilson said.

Dallas hospital's emergency room missed benchmarks before Ebola case

The Dallas hospital that cared for the first U.S.-diagnosed Ebola patient has many strengths. But the man walked in through its seemingly weakest link: the emergency room.

According to its own data, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital met or exceeded 75 percent of federal benchmarks of care. But its emergency department failed to meet any of five national patient safety and quality benchmarks it reported.

Thomas Eric Duncan was initially misdiagnosed in Presbyterian's ER, where potential warning signs apparently went unnoticed. He was later readmitted and eventually died.

The benchmarks measure how long it takes for patients to be seen, admitted, or otherwise cared for in the ER. Presbyterian says wait times are "only one component of patient care and patient experience."

Others insist longer wait times point to larger issues.

President Obama "cautiously more optimistic" on U.S. Ebola response

After an initial response marked by missteps, President Obama said Wednesday that he is "cautiously more optimistic" about the government's handling of domestic Ebola cases.

"The public health infrastructure and systems that we are now putting in place ... should give the American people confidence that we're going to be in a position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola that might crop up without it turning into an outbreak," the president told journalists after a meeting in the Oval Office with Ron Klain, the government's newly-minted Ebola response coordinator.

The president said that "dozens" of people who were in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. last month, had been deemed Ebola-free.

He also said he was "cautiously optimistic" about the state of the two nurses infected while treating Duncan, who has since passed away.

"They seem to be doing better," he said.

Family says doctors can "no longer detect" Ebola in nurse

ebola-amber-vinson.jpg
Amber Vinson, one of two Texas nurses recovering from Ebola, released a photo of herself from her hospital room at Emory University Hospital in Atlanta on Wednesday.
Photo courtesy Amber Vinson

The family of Amber Vinson, the Dallas nurse who treated an Ebola patient before his death issued a statement Wednesday evening saying Emory University Hospital and Centers for Disease Control officials are no longer able to find the Ebola virus in her body.

Vinson, 29, was infected while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, although it remains unclear exactly how she acquired the virus.

"We all know that further treatment will be necessary as Amber continues to regain strength, but these latest developments have truly answered prayers and bring our family one step closer to reuniting with her at home," her family said.

In the statement, her family say she was approved for transfer from the isolation at Emory. Amber remains under treatment within Emory's Serious Communicable Diseases Unit.

Nurse Nina Pham, who also treated Duncan is continuing her own treatment at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md.

Closing a gap in Ebola screening at airports

Under a new rule that went into effect Wednesday, air travelers from the West African nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea must enter the United States through one of five airports doing special screenings and fever checks for Ebola. A handful of people had been arriving at other airports and missing the checks.

A total of 562 air travelers have been checked in the screenings that started Oct. 11 at New York's Kennedy Airport and expanded to four others last week, Homeland Security officials said.

The executive director of the agency that operates the New York area's three major airports says more than 400 people have been screened for Ebola, with no one found to have the virus.

Four were taken from Washington's Dulles airport to a local hospital. None had Ebola.

The other airports screening for Ebola are Newark's Liberty, Chicago's O'Hare and Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson.

On Wednesday, an airline passenger was being evaluated at a hospital in Newark, New Jersey, on Tuesday due to Ebola concerns. Two others were hospitalized after getting off planes into Chicago.

There are no direct flights from the three nations into the U.S.; about 150 fliers per day arrive by various multi-leg routes. About 6 percent of them were coming through airports that don't have the new Ebola screening, federal officials said.

Ebola "czar" gets to work

Ron Klain stepped up to his new role as Ebola "czar" Wednesday morning.

The White House and those close to Klain told CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett that they see his role as primarily internal and decidedly lacking in media sizzle. He's said to be the behind-the-scenes director making sure decisions are tracked and carried out quickly, pulling all the various points of view together without distraction or indecisiveness.

Klain will work in the West Wing and have regular access to top aides. He's expected to meet frequently with National Security Adviser Susan Rice and White House Homeland Security Adviser Lisa Monaco. As has been reported previously, Klain will be paid.

Klain will represent Mr. Obama and have direct access for any next steps.

Red Cross official predicts containment of outbreak

A top Red Cross official says he is confident the Ebola epidemic can be contained within four to six months.

The secretary general of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, Elhadj As Sy, told a news conference in Beijing on Wednesday that the time frame is possible if there is "good isolation, good treatment of the cases which are confirmed, good dignified and safe burials of deceased people."

Rwanda screening Americans for Ebola

Rwanda's Ministry of Health is requiring visitors who have been in the United States or Spain during the previous 22 days to report their medical condition to health authorities upon arrival in Rwanda, the U.S. Embassy in Rwanda said Tuesday.

A Ministry of Health document says all passengers from the U.S. and Spain - two countries that have seen cases of Ebola - will have temperatures taken upon arrival. Passengers with fevers will be denied entry, and those without fevers will still be required to report daily health conditions.

Increased pressure to limit West Africa visas

With the threat of the Ebola virus still causing widespread concern for Americans, the Obama administration is coming under increasing pressure to implement at least some travel restrictions for people traveling to the U.S. from West Africa.

Health officials largely reject an all-out travel ban, partially out of concern that it might hinder doctors, nurses and other aid workers traveling to the region. One possible compromise might be a temporary ban on new visas for travel to the U.S. by nationals from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries hit hardest by the virus.

"You don't want to create a sense of panic or ostracizing of an entire continent by sort of creating a travel ban unnecessarily," said CBS News National Security Analyst Juan Zarate. "That said, I think there are ways of doing this tied to not allowing visas for those who are in these countries who want to come to the United States."

Texas designates two special Ebola treatment units

In Texas, Gov. Rick Perry announced Tuesday the state has designated two special Ebola treatment units to take any future patients there, site of the only three cases diagnosed in the United States during this outbreak.

They were a man from Liberia infected before he came to the U.S. and two of the nurses who treated him at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. That hospital wasn't chosen as a future Ebola center to grant staff members some relief, Perry said. Dozens of the hospital's employees are still being monitored in case they, too, were infected.

Judge Clay Jenkins, Dallas County's top administrator, said staff members at the Dallas hospital are tired, with "a wealth of emotions going on."

Johnson & Johnson developing Ebola vaccine

Johnson & Johnson will begin safety testing in early January on a vaccine combination that could protect people from a strain of the deadly Ebola virus.

The health care products maker said Wednesday that the vaccine being developed by its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies protects against an Ebola strain that is "highly similar" to the virus that has triggered the current outbreak in West Africa. Johnson & Johnson also plans to test whether its vaccine protects against the version causing the outbreak, which has killed more than 4,500 people.

The New Brunswick, New Jersey, company has committed up to $200 million to speed up and expand production of the vaccine program.

Johnson & Johnson is developing the vaccine with the Danish biotech company Bavarian Nordic. It involves a regimen in which two vaccines are delivered two months apart. The combination provided complete protection in animals.

Officials say they've ID'd all Ohio Ebola contacts

The state epidemiologist says health officials believe they've identified everyone in Ohio known to have been near or had contact with a Dallas nurse who visited Akron before she was diagnosed with Ebola.

Dr. Mary DiOrio said Wednesday that monitoring of those 164 people should end Nov. 4. DiOrio says it's been a stressful time for those people.

Three are quarantined at home. One is the stepfather of nurse Amber Vinson, who contracted Ebola after caring for the only person in the U.S. who has died of the disease.

During a telephone news conference, the head of the Ohio Hospital Association said some hospitals in Ohio are prepared to fully care for Ebola patients, while others are capable of diagnosing, isolating and transporting someone with symptoms of the disease.

Sierra Leone police and residents clash as some declared Ebola-free

Police and residents clashed in other areas of the Ebola-hit West African country of Sierra Leona.

Assistant inspector police general Karrow Kamara said Wednesday a curfew had been imposed in the eastern diamond-rich Kono district after protests Tuesday. Police fired tear gas to disperse crowds who had gathered with sticks and machetes in support of a local leader for the governing party who wanted to stop health officials from taking blood samples from his mother.

At the Hastings Treatment center near Freetown on Tuesday, 45 patients were issued with health certificates claiming they were Ebola-free, and proudly held them up as they were released.

Such releases are glimmers of hope in an outbreak that has infected some 9,900 people and killed more than 4,800 in the hardest hit countries in West Africa - Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Ebola plush toys for kids "selling like hotcakes"

A Connecticut company that makes plush toys shaped like the microscopic image of various microbes says it has sold out of their Ebola plush toys.

Laura Sullivan, vice president of operations for Giantmicrobes Inc., said in an interview with CBS News: "They're selling like hot cakes."

Their Ebola products - which include regular- and giant-sized plush recreations of the virus, as well a petri dish and something called "Primordial Putty" - are currently only available through the company's website, but much of the rest of their line can be found in everything from hospital gift shops to college bookstores to medical supply stores.

Sullivan said this isn't the first case of a headline-making disease affecting their sales. The swine flu outbreak a few years ago caused a similar spike in sales, but Sullivan added it was not quite at the level of Ebola.

"It's a neat little product," Sullivan said. "In the case of Ebola, it's been a helpful way for families talk about it and take some of the scariness away."

Dog belonging to Ebola-infected nurse tests negative

A dog belonging to Dallas nurse Nina Pham has so far tested negative for Ebola. City officials say the one-year-old dog named Bentley will be tested again before his quarantine period ends November 1st. Pham is in good condition at the National Institutes of Health in Maryland.

Officials say the year-old King Charles Spaniel has been given comfortable bedding, toys and other items to entertain him while he stays at a decommissioned naval air base.

City spokeswoman Sana Syed said Tuesday that Bentley is staying in the former residence of the executive officer at the decommissioned Hensley Field, which is owned by the city.

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says city officials vowed to do everything in their power to care for Pham's beloved pet.