Friday, October 24, 2014

Uber driver in NYC drove Doctors Without Borders doctor diagnosed with Ebola

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According to New York Times, it is speculated that a New York City doctor, who volunteered under Doctors Without Borders in Guinea, got diagnosed with Ebola. Reading further into this article, we noticed that an Uber taxi driver drove this doctor. Can driving an infected person put drivers at risk of disease?

Vehicle interior spaces are extremely small. Most often, clients sneeze and cough inside ridesharing vehicles. If this doctor requested a ride via Uber and was driven, could this vehicle be contaminated? Does this Uber driver know they drove a doctor who may now be diagnosed with Ebola? 

What kind of decontamination is required under the CDC? In this news article, a CDC spokesperson determined that this Uber driver did not have any contact with this doctor and shouldn't be at risk. However, Uber drivers open doors and are confined in small space with clients. 

What if this doctor was coughing up a storm? It is possible he touched the door handle with mucus and/or droplets on this hand? Touched his mouth and spread his germs? Got sick (vomit) before entering this ride?

No disrespect to this doctor, who we admire for their courage and devotion for helping those in need and who makes a world of difference. We commend health care workers who put this lives at risk to care for these underprivileged people. 

Facts are facts. The Uber driver drove a doctor who is now in isolation, possibly infected with the highly lethal Ebola virus. Has someone from Uber and/or any health care embodiments contact this Uber driver to inform them of their previous client, who now is in isolation and may have Ebola?

Update: We recently heard that Uber addressed this issue. They informed their driver and contacted the proper health authorities. However, no news of whether this driver sanitized, disinfected and/or decontaminated their vehicles. This Uber driver likely transported more passengers after this doctor.

Wow, something is wrong here. This Uber driver has no direct contact with the doctor. However, they drove this doctor and it is likely he touched the interior space. If this doctor provided treatment and wore protective gear in the field, then how did he get Ebola? What led this lethal virus into his body? Apparently, Ebola infected this doctor and he is now isolated.

According to NYTimes (2014), "Ebola is transmitted through bodily fluids and secretions, including blood, mucus, feces and vomit" (par. 33).

CDC website on the transmission of Ebola:

Should ridesharing drivers worry about who they drive? Clients vomit. They cough up mucus. Those who come from bars and sporting events may not wash their hands. Bodily fluids are possible present on their hands. Outside of games, there are only portable bathroom units. No sanitizers of any type are available to wash hands. Could a client have a serious illness and spread this to drivers?

If health officials check airplanes, why not screen this Uber vehicle? This Uber vehicle is owned by the driver, not Uber. It is their personal vehicle. Would you want to be driving around a car, who you may have driven a person with a potentially lethal Ebola virus, and not be told about this right away? 

How do officials know whether the Ebola virus in not in this vehicle? They claim this doctor was not symptomatic and couldn't spread this Ebola virus. Furthermore, they share that there is a slim probability this disease would spread in the subway system and in public places.

Should we disregard Ebola and not worry? These officials are basically implying this disease won't spread via the air and patients who are not in a stage of contagious need not to worry that others around them can become infected. What is the lifespan of the Ebola virus outside of the human body?  
As we know, dogs ride in Uber vehicles often. What if a dog starts to sniff around and licks the interior space? Can animals get infected this way? How potent is this Ebola virus? Could this doctor have been symptomatic at this time? Did he touch anything with a small trace of bodily fluids and transfer this Ebola virus to surfaces? 

According to the New York Times, "The driver of the taxi, arranged by the online service Uber, did not have direct contact with Dr. Spencer and was not considered to be a risk, officials said" ( This is really comforting to know, especially when ridesharing drivers are in tight spaces with their clients. Clients cough, sneeze, drink water, and touch things with dirty hands. They shake driver hands and also fist-bump them.  

Was this Uber driver informed of this previous client who is now in isolation with Ebola? Yes, this driver was contacted regarding this trip. Does this statement above disregard this vital information? The Uber driver had a right to know the moment the doctor was taken into care. We're sure this driver would want to disinfect their entire car interior and also clean the door handles. This is not right to say the driver did not have direct contact with the client and is not at risk.  

The doctor wore protective gear. Somehow, the Ebola virus still infected him. What do we know about Ebola? Can this virus survive long enough outside of the body to contaminate a car space? Clients sneeze and their droplets spread in the car interiors. Moreover, bodily fluids may be present on hands. Quite a few people don't wash their hands. They may wipe their hands on the seats. 

Ridesharing drivers must wipe down their vehicles after completing shifts. They have to protect their family, friends, and their clients from infectious germs. What is the proper protocol to cleaning after an infected individual made contact?

As a former health care worker, we sterilize all medical equipment, beds, and surfaces. This is the standard protocol in medical facilities. It doesn't matter if patients are infected or not infected with any infectious diseases. What is required with Ebola? Does this Uber vehicle need disinfecting and/or cleaning services?

As a precaution, this article shared that a bowling alley this doctor visited was closed down (this article is the top search for "Bowling Alley" keyword). Again, does this Uber driver know they drove this client? If not, why not? Eventually, Uber reviewed their trips and contacted this driver. The proper health officials spoke to this driver and told them they were not at risk.

May Dr. Spencer make a full recovery from Ebola. Our deepest condolences to him. We pray for a speedy recovery from this lethal virus. Thank you service to helping people across the world, including your hometown of NYC. 

Read this NY Times article and you will notice Uber in the middle of it, with the quote we included above.  


***Uber notified the Uber driver and also communicated with the CDC concerning this Ebola incident. According to CDC and relayed to Uber, the Uber driver and clients taking rides after this patient are not as risk to acquire Ebola. It is determined this infected patient was not contagious at the time he was moving around NYC. It will be interesting how this Ebola incident plays out, as giving rides to future clients may pose health risks. Currently, the CDC and other health authorities are claiming no person should worry about this Ebola patient infecting others during his movement through NYC. Why wear full protective gear to transport this doctor? This is a sketchy case***