Ebola rumor puts some Norwalk area residents on edge

NORWALK, Conn. – No one is saying why it started – not yet – but words flitting around the Twittersphere Tuesday morning prompted Norwalk Hospital to post a tweet of its own to spike a rumor that a potential Ebola case was headed for the emergency room, which would then be closed to the public.

The tweet, at 11:55 a.m., said:

From Norwalk Hospital
From Norwalk Hospital


That followed a string of tweets including these, around 11 a.m.:

These were among the tweets as the rumor spread after 11 a.m. Tuesday.
These were among the tweets as the rumor spread after 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Some news outlets jumped on the story with breaking news alerts that carried the hospital denial, but not the original tweets.

Monday, Western Connecticut Health Network Chief Medical Officer Dr. Matthew Miller had emailed a statement in response to NancyOnNorwalk’s inquiry about Norwalk Hospital’s preparations for any possible Ebola cases:

“As with any potentially transmissible illness, we follow evidence based clinical protocols and CDC guidelines to ensure the health and safety of our patients and staff. We have well trained staff, as well as the facilities and equipment to isolate and manage potentially infectious patients. We are fully prepared to manage Ebola should we encounter this very serious illness in our community.”

The reply included these links:

Center For Disease Controls 

CT Department of Public Health Guidelines

But there was no explanation of what training or procedures had been put in place. The same statement was released Tuesday in response to the rumor.

Meanwhile, Ebola talk heated up online. Among the posts:

“OH crap….my grandson is an X-ray tech at the Norwalk hospital in CT….he was just informed of this and was told the person will need x-rays….he is freaking out…so is his mom….they asked him how he will do it….he has said he isn’t because he has ZERO training in such cases…..the dept. head is on the way in

“Just a heads up if your thinking about using the Norwalk Hospital…they are converting a few room for “isolation” but really….what good will that do….I personally would stay away”

An email to WCHN Public and Government Relations Director Andrea Rynn requesting specific information about how the rumor might have started went unanswered.

Norwalk Fire Chief and Emergency Management Director Denis McCarthy responded Tuesday afternoon to a question about the dangers posed by such rumors.

“We discussed with the hospital and the health department the need for close coordination for all Ebola-related press releases,” he said. “I am waiting for an update from the hospital on what prompted the tweet. We have a follow-up meeting with that this week.”

Last week, McCarthy addressed Norwalk’s emergency management planning in the wake of Ebola being brought onto American soil.

“After the governor’s executive order placing a state of emergency for Ebola, we want to make sure that we have good communications from an Emergency Management perspective between all of the city departments, the health department, and any of us might be involved in one way or another,” he said, having stepped away from a meeting of department heads in which Ebola was one of the topics of discussion.

“Really, what the message is the city is following the CDC guidelines and directives and answering questions from the public based on those directives. There’s no locally generated information as it relates to Ebola. We want to make sure everybody was on the same page because a number of us have started to get some questions, whether it’s from employees or from responders, what is their exposure at EMS calls, or those departments that have a lot of public contact.”


One response to “Ebola rumor puts some Norwalk area residents on edge”

  1. EveT

    Why would a patient with Ebola need x-rays?

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