Two New York City Police Department offers raised some eyebrows after they were filmed throwing protective gloves, masks and caution tape into a public trash can near the home of the city’s first Ebola positive patient.
But it this really cause for panic? The medical expert TheBlaze spoke with didn’t think so.
On Thursday, Dr. Craig Spencer was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance when he reported having a high fever and symptoms of nausea. Later, the test results for the doctor who, had recently been in Guinea caring for Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders, came back positive for the viral disease.
As emergency crews went into action to start tracking people Spencer might have had contact with and dealing with his Harlem apartment, the New York Post reported that the NYPD also blocked off some of the streets near his home.
With the public eye focused on where Spencer lived, video recently emerged of two officers throwing wads of yellow tape used to section off areas into a public trash can, along with the gloves and face masks they were wearing at the time.
Watch the footage posted on the U.K.’s Daily Mail:
Here’s what some people are saying about it on Twitter:
— Charles Brobst (@cabrobst) October 24, 2014
— CCmovingon (@5hatsforthisone) October 24, 2014
Why did I just watch two NYC cops, come from Ebola Dr's apt, remove rubber gloves and masks, and throw them in a… http://t.co/MfL7MzWUbo
— PJ Stansbury (@PJStansbury1) October 24, 2014
I love how on CNN they just showed a clip of a couple of NY cops throwing away their ebola-infested gloves in a trash can on the corner.
— Ian M. (@IanDude365) October 24, 2014
— Mark Towhey (@towhey) October 24, 2014
The NYPD told TheBlaze in an emailed statement, “officers responded to the perimeter of the incident in order to redirect traffic and escort EMS to Bellevue Hospital. At no time did the officers come in contact with the male patient or enter the apartment building.”
The city’s health department not respond to a request for comment from TheBlaze regarding how these items were disposed of, but Dr. Amesh Adalja, a representative of the Infectious Disease Society of America, told TheBlaze that he doesn’t think the public should jump to conclusions.
“We don’t know what role those two NYPD officers had,” Adalja told TheBlaze in a phone interview Friday morning. “You can’t really jump to conclusions from that video because we have no idea what those individuals roles were. Maybe those cops were just wearing those things and sitting on the sidewalk.”
Based on the NYPD’s statement the officers did more than sat on the sidewalk but it confirmed they also didn’t come into contact with Spencer or his belongings.
Still, the perception of throwing the items away in the trash can might have been handled differently.
“I would say the country is in generalized panic over Ebola and any little think can set people off,” Adalja said. “I don’t believe this NYPD incident puts anyone at risk or was any break of protocol. There’s just such panic in population that anything perceived to be connected with Ebola could set something off.”
This story has been updated to include more information from the NYPD.