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The Brief: Oct. 16, 2014

Wednesday amounted to a daylong series of body blows to those who thought that authorities had things under control in the response to the diagnosis of Ebola in Dallas.

An exterior view of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas on Oct. 1, 2014.

The Big Conversation

Wednesday amounted to a daylong series of body blows to those who thought that authorities had things under control in the response to the diagnosis of Ebola in Dallas.

The revelation at daybreak that a second nurse had been infected with the often deadly virus was followed throughout the day with fresh, discouraging news. There was the disclosure that the second nurse was allowed to travel to Cleveland, triggering the need to track down those who traveled with her. That led to the announcement of travel restrictions on anyone with exposure to someone with Ebola. Several Republicans in Congress, including Texas' Ted Cruz, called for a travel ban from West African countries — the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak — to the U.S.

Then there was the revelation that nurses for two days treated Thomas Eric Duncan — the country's first diagnosed case of Ebola — without full protective gear until confirmation of his infection was made. All in all, the events of the day seemed like a sea change was occurring in how officials at the federal and state levels were approaching the public health response to events in Dallas.

At the federal level, President Barack Obama canceled plans to attend a campaign event to meet with his Cabinet. He emerged with vows of a "much more aggressive" response that would include the deployment of the public health equivalent of SWAT teams to future Ebola cases.

Gov. Rick Perry cut short a trip to Europe in response to the new Ebola diagnosis. And the chief clinical officer at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is scheduled to appear today before a U.S. House committee, where he is expected to apologize for mistakes in diagnosing Duncan.

Meanwhile, that second nurse, Amber Joy Vinson, was taken Wednesday evening to Atlanta for treatment at Emory University Hospital.

The Day Ahead

•    U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz is scheduled to appear at an 11:15 a.m. presser with Houston pastors subpoenaed by the city of Houston as part of litigation over the city's equal rights ordinance.

•    The House Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to take up multiple interim charges, including identifying occupational licenses that may not be necessary for health or public safety. (agenda)

•    The House Public Education Committee meets at 10 a.m. in the Capitol Extension to review governance structures for school boards and to take a look at the Harris County Department of Education. (agenda)

•    Sam Houston, the Democratic nominee for attorney general, drops by the Austin Club for an 8 a.m. TribLive conversation. For those unable to make it, we will livestream the discussion.

Trib Must-Reads

Harris County Seeks Accounting for Decades of Pollution, by Neena Satija

Video: A Revenue Stream or a Cause for Concern?, by Alana Rocha and Justin Dehn

Judge Lets Bankrupt Energy Firm Issue Bonuses, by Jim Malewitz

Davis Says Controversial Ad "Incredibly Effective", by Jay Root

Enterprise Fund Criticism Overblown, Committee Told, by Aman Batheja


Mayor, city attorney distance themselves from sermon subpoenas, Houston Chronicle

Perry’s team, legislators spar over state incentives policy, Austin American-Statesman

Anti-wind push makes strange bedfellows, The Dallas Morning News

'Shocked' abortion clinics start to reopen in Texas, Houston Chronicle

Texas voter ID case appealed to U.S. Supreme Court, Austin American-Statesman

Round Rock pot brownie defendant pleads guilty to lesser charge, Austin American-Statesman

A Texas Border Militiaman Reconsiders the Mission, Texas Observer

Quote to Note

“You get down there and you begin to see humanity. You can set up here and watch Fox News and say ‘these alien bastards, we need to shut the border down.’ But what I saw coming through Brooks County was humanity.”

— Former border militiaman Charles Gilbert on his disillusionment with what his group was doing along the border

Today in TribTalk

Ban flights from Ebola-stricken nations, by Ted Cruz

Don't bust the spending cap, by Konni Burton, Brandon Creighton, Bob Hall and Van Taylor

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    A Conversation With state Sen. Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville, and state Rep. Travis Clardy, R-Nacogdoches, on Oct. 22 at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commission Candidates Steve Brown and Ryan Sitton, on Oct. 30 at The Austin Club in Austin

•    A One-Day Symposium on the Impact of the Shale Boom on Oct. 31 at the University of Texas San Antonio

•    A Live Post-Election TribCast, featuring Tribune editors and reporters on the election results, on Nov. 5 at The Austin Club

•    A Conversation With Railroad Commissioner Christi Craddick on Nov. 6 at The Austin Club

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Energy Environment Health care Politics Rick Perry Ted Cruz Wendy Davis