Amber Vinson is the name of the second young nurse to contract Ebola from deceased patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who arrived at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on September 25, was sent home, and returned three days later to the emergency room.
Vinson joins Nina Pham as the second healthcare worker to be infected with the deadly virus from a source within the United States.
Vinson flew out of Cleveland and returned to Dallas on Frontier Airlines Flight 1143. She had a "low-grade fever" at the time, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have since confirmed that she is "ill but clinically stable," according to comments reported by NBC News.
Unfortunately, that's not where the CDC comments ended concerning Amber Vinson.
"She should not have traveled on a commercial airline," said CDC director Thomas Frieden. ABC News adds a bit more to the quote: "Because at that point she was in a group of individuals known to have exposure to Ebola, she should not have traveled on a commercial airline."
Already some commenters on the NBC website agree with him.
"This is terrifying. She should be ashamed of herself for traveling," said one.
"OMG the stupid people will end up killing at least a few innocent victims!" wrote another. "You are a NURSE that has been treating an EBOLA patient, and you have a FEVER (if you are a nurse you should be able to detect a fever!) and it sounds like a good idea to go on a trip? This lady is just as dumb as Eric Duncan who LIED to customs about what he had been exposed to, which is by the way a federal offense."
The only problem with Frieden and these commenters' remarks: it's not Amber Vinson who is to blame. Let's look at the facts of the case concerning what we know at this point.
Vinson provided direct care to Duncan while he was sick with the Ebola virus. The CDC knew this and had assured the public from day one that it would "stop Ebola in its tracks." They billed themselves as the experts on stopping an Ebola outbreak yet they allowed Amber Vinson to go about her life as if nothing was any different, the whole while she was carrying the Ebola virus.
They didn't make her wait 21 days to show symptoms under a mandatory quarantine. They simply turned her loose, and she boarded flights to and from Cleveland with their blessing.
Now it's her fault.
At each turn, the CDC has had egg on its face with the handling of Ebola containment. They assured the public they had everything under control. When news of the Dallas Ebola case hit, they reported a very small amount of people were exposed -- 12 at first, then 50, then 80, then over 100.
Since that time, we've had two diagnoses and Nina Pham's boyfriend is in quarantine. He worked in Fort Worth, exposing potentially thousands. Vinson was allowed to expose 130 others that we know of, and only time will tell if she exposed friends and family to the virus over the weekend.
That's how Ebola spreads.
If Amber Vinson survives this deadly disease -- and I hope and pray she does -- she will have to face questions as to why she got on a flight after treating an Ebola patient and not waiting 21 days for symptoms to appear.
She could point out that she traveled because she didn't know "quarantines" were optional as they apparently are under Dr. Frieden's rule.
But if I were her, I would simply say "Ask the CDC."
UPDATE: Since this op-ed was originally posted, Amber Vinson has issued a statement claiming that the reason she boarded a plane for Cleveland and back was because the CDC gave her the green light to do so. The CDC has not taken responsibility.