The families of the Liberian man who died of Ebola earlier this month in Dallas, and one of the two nurses who contracted the virus after treating him, spoke out on Sunday.
In a statement, the family of Amber Vinson, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, responded to critics who have blamed her illness on a possible failure to follow safety guidelines.
"In no way was Amber careless prior to or after her exposure to Mr. Thomas Eric Duncan," the family said. "Suggestions that she ignored any of the physician and government-provided protocols recommended to her are patently untrue and hurtful."
Last week, Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Freiden said that, because she was at risk, Vinson should not have flown. However, Vinson's family reiterated on Sunday that the CDC had cleared her for travel multiple times.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said that the CDC was planning to update its guidelines for Ebola treatment in light of the crisis in Dallas. The current protocol doesn't mandate that health workers cover all of their skin, which he said creates an added "vulnerability."
In a statement provided to WFAA, Louise Troh, the longtime partner of Thomas Eric Duncan, said that "our hearts go out to the two brave women who have been infected by this terrible disease as they were trying to help him."
Vinson was the second person to have contracted Ebola in the United States after Nina Pham, another nurse at the Texas hospital. Both women have been moved from Dallas to hospitals that specialize in Ebola treatment.
Troh, whose fiance Duncan was the first person to have been diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., also thanked the Dallas community for their support.
"We have lost so much but we have our lives and we have our faith in God, which always gives us hope," she said. "Even though the quarantine is over, our time of mourning is not over."