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After Quarantine, Ebola-Free Dallas Residents Face New Challenges

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

As is so often the case, the satirical news site The Onion captured the irony of this moment. An Onion headline declares, quote, "Nurse Being Treated For Ebola Impressed With Health Workers' New Gear." The fictional nurse goes on to praise equipment she did not have. The United States really is scrambling to adjust after one man in Dallas died of Ebola and two health care workers grew sick. The CDC, The Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, really have released new guidelines for how health workers must completely cover their skin and be well-trained and be observed by a colleague as they put on or remove their garments. That's the adjustment for the health care workers. For some other people in Dallas, it's time to adjust back to normal life. Many people who came in contact with Thomas Eric Duncan are now free from quarantine. NPR's Kirk Siegler reports.

KIRK SIEGLER, BYLINE: On a quiet street in the Oak Cliff neighborhood southwest of downtown, you'll find the leafy campus of the Dallas Catholic Diocese Retreat and Conference Center. On a secluded corner of this property is a cabin where Thomas Eric Duncan's fiancee, Louise Troh, and three other family members spent most of the past three weeks in quarantine - no leaving under any circumstances, no hugging, no physical contact of any kind. As the family was leaving here for what appeared to the first time, no one felt like talking to reporters.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Do you want to tell us how you're feeling, how you've been?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: I'm good, man.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: OK.

SIEGLER: Louise Troh only replied she felt amazing. Troh has asked for privacy. She said in a statement that she and her family are relieved to be free of the illness, but are still grieving.

BISHOP KEVIN FARRELL: They are obviously going through period of great difficulty. And Louise just lost a loved one, and a couple of months prior to that, she lost her sister.

SIEGLER: This is the bishop of the Dallas Diocese, Kevin Farrell, who came to the conference center to thank the staff for housing Troh. The family will keep staying here until they find a new home. They won't go back to their apartment. Almost all of their possessions had to be destroyed.

FARRELL: And I would hope that the whole community would kind of understand and bring them back into the community and be kind and accepting and compassionate to these people who have suffered in this way.

SIEGLER: This is a plea you're hearing almost everywhere in Dallas. There are concerns that people who are leaving quarantine will face discrimination or in Louise Troh's case, even unfair blame for somehow bring Ebola to the U.S. At the Wilshire Baptist Church, where Troh's a member, the Reverend George Mason is trying to get out in front of any future problems.

REVEREND GEORGE MASON: We're going to communicate that as broadly as possible so that no one thinks that they are an endangerment to anyone and instead throws their arms out and welcomes them back.

SIEGLER: This church has become the center of donation efforts for those in quarantine. Mason says it's been hard to find a landlord willing to rent to them, and then there's the emotional toll. Carol Goglia is with the Dallas-based Communities Foundation of Texas, which is helping with counseling and supplies.

CAROL GOGLIA: Some of them are hourly workers where their jobs are at risk. Others are in salaried positions where they are able to work from home and can continue their work and there's not as much disruption, but for all of them really there are fears of reentry.

SIEGLER: Some who have been cleared have not yet gotten official documents from the health department either, but it's safe to say that a lot of people in Dallas seem a good deal more optimistic than they have for days. If no more new Ebola cases surface, health officials here say the Dallas-Fort Worth area could be all clear, Ebola-free, by November 7. Kirk Siegler, NPR News, Dallas. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.