The Truth About Ebola

Dear Friend:

As you have likely heard, Dr. Craig Spencer, a member of our community who lives on West 147th Street, has been diagnosed with Ebola.  He is currently being treated in the isolation ward at Bellevue.  Three of his close relations have been quarantined but are currently healthy.  The Department of Health is actively working to trace other possible at-risk contacts Dr. Spencer may have had.

These developments are cause for concern--but not for panic.  A lot of misinformation is circulating about Ebola and how it spreads. Here are the facts:

  • Ebola is extremely difficult to contract, and the chances of the average New Yorker becoming infected are quite slim.

  • Ebola cannot be transmitted if the patient is not symptomatic.

  • Ebola is spread by directly touching the bodily fluids of an infected person--not by casual contact.

  • You cannot be infected simply by being near someone who has Ebola--the virus is not airborne.

  • There is no known case of Ebola being transmitted by contact with a surface touched by a person with the disease.

Officials do not believe Dr. Spencer was symptomatic until this morning. As a trained medical professional, he knew to call 911 as soon as he developed a fever. Regardless, you can ride the train without worry tomorrow knowing that Ebola is very different from the common cold: it's nearly impossible to catch just by touching a subway pole.

The other good news is we couldn't have been better prepared. City officials have been getting ready to respond to the virus for months and the execution of their established protocols has been flawless. I want to assure everyone in Northern Manhattan that City, State and Federal public health authorities have treated this with the highest possible level of urgency and marshaling every resource at their disposal to respond to this case. 

You can read more about how Ebola spreads and is transmitted here and here. For more information on Ebola prevention, or if you think you've come in contact with the virus, please call 311 immediately.

Don't hesitate to use my office as a resource as well. Call us anytime at 212-928-6814. We promise to continue to keep you informed as this situation develops over the coming days.


Mark Levine
City Council Member, 7th District
UPDATE (10/25, 5:00 PM): Dr. Spencer's fiance is returning home today. Here are answers to questions you may have: 
Why is fiancée allowed to go home? Why isn’t she still hospitalized?

• She has been medically cleared to go home.  She has no fever and has no symptoms of Ebola.  She is under quarantine, where her health will be monitored.

How will she be transported? Will transport team wear protective clothing?

• She will be transported by car.  Transport team does not need to wear any protective clothing, and none will be worn.

Will fiancée wear protective clothing?

• No.  She is not wearing protective clothing, as she has no fever and no symptoms, and poses no public health threat.

Why is she going back to same apartment? Isn’t that dangerous?

• Her apartment was thoroughly cleaned. It is safe for her to occupy.

How will she get food?

• She has food in the apartment. Food and other supplies for daily living are being managed by the Human Resources Administration.

How will she communicate?

• She has a phone and the Department of Health will provide her with a tablet for videochatting.

Can she have visitors?

• No.

Will there be guard outside her door? Police officer? 24/7?

• There will be a Health Police officer outside her door around the clock until the quarantine period ends.

When will her quarantine end?

• November 14 at 9am
Mayor Bill de Blasio and City Council members on Friday afternoon announced an agreement on the city's $92.8 billion budget for fiscal 2020, with initiatives to improve health care access at its forefront. The budget includes $26 million to place 200 additional social workers—including 85 working within the city's mental health initiative, ThriveNYC—in public...

Under legislation drafted by the City Council, the de Blasio administration would have to report on its efforts to notify school staff and the students who attended dozens of public schools during the 2001-02 school year that were not far from the World Trade Center site about programs available for...

The city is trying to have tenants sign new leases that only list one official occupant. By Noah Manskar, Patch Staff NEW YORK — New York City is forcing tenants of beleaguered buildings that it owns to sign new leases — and the conditions have raised hackles among lawyers and lawmakers....

By Brian M. Rosenthal The New York attorney general’s office said Monday it had opened an inquiry into more than a decade of lending practices that left thousands of immigrant taxi drivers in crushing debt, while Mayor Bill de Blasio ordered a separate investigation into the brokers who helped arrange...

City Councilmember Mark Levine has announced the 2019 winners of participatory budgeting in his district, which includes parts of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Washington Heights. The projects to receive funding are: $250,000 for air conditioning upgrades and new water fountains at P.S. 165 Robert E. Simon School...

By Sabrina Mallot Last fall, the City Council introduced a package of 18 bills aimed at preventing tenants from being displaced due to aggressive tactics from landlords like exploitative buyout agreements or nuisance construction. On Wednesday, May 8, all but one passed. They still require the mayor’s signature, but he...

By Eddie Small The hallways of Bronx Housing Court are crowded and chaotic on a typical weekday morning. Lawyers and tenants scurry across the white tile floors and lounge on the worn-down benches of the Grand Concourse building, where occasionally the sound of one person shouting out a name will...

By Elizabeth Kim A collaboration between a group of housing rights advocates has produced the most comprehensive database yet to measure evictions across New York City and identify many of the landlords responsible for them. Three advocacy groups — Right to Counsel NYC Coalition,, and the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project —...

Sign up for our mailing list!

Report a Problem Participatory Budgeting Events