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THE SITUATION ROOM
Texas Nurse with Ebola Being Moved to Maryland; Congressional Hearing Seeks Answers on Ebola; Nurse Nina Pham to Transfer by Air Ambulance; Obama Meeting with Ebola Team; Airstrikes Block ISIS Advance; Hunt for Missing Student Moves into New Phase
Aired October 16, 2014 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, Ebola patient moved. The first nurse to come down with the disease in Dallas heads to a special hospital in Maryland.
Contagion fears. Did a second sick nurse expose travelers? Why schools are now closed and flight crews are grounded.
And the fangate debate. Florida's governor refused to take the stage when his challenger put an electronic fan beneath the podium. Should he have kept his cool? Governor Rick Scott standing by to join us live.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. A second Texas nurse infected with Ebola being moved from the Dallas hospital that's become ground zero for the virus in the United States.
We're awaiting the transfer of 26-year-old Nina Pham. She'll be flown by air ambulance to the isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, right outside of Washington, D.C.
This comes just one day after another infected nurse was transferred to Atlanta's Emory University Hospital and just hours after a top official from the Dallas hospital was grilled by lawmakers and admitted mistakes were made.
We're covering the breaking news from all the key locations with our correspondents and our guests, including House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, who was part of today's tense hearing on the Ebola crisis.
Let's begin in Dallas with CNN's Ed Lavandera. Ed, what is the -- what's the latest over there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we were waiting to see Nina Pham, the first healthcare worker that was infected with Ebola. She is going through the preparations of being transferred to Maryland where she will be continuing her treatment there.
This as officials here in Dallas say they are preparing and expecting more healthcare workers to be infected with Ebola. Tonight, apologies and second guessing as the two infected nurses are removed from the Texas hospital where they contracted Ebola while caring for Thomas Eric Duncan.
DR. DANIEL VARGA, TEXAS HEALTH RESOURCES: Unfortunately, in our initial treatment of Mr. Duncan, despite our best intentions and a highly skilled medical team, we made mistakes. We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola, and we are deeply sorry.
LAVANDERA: Nina Pham will be transported to an isolation unit inside the National Institute of Health in Maryland.
And Amber Vinson is under care at Atlanta's Emory University Hospital. This as new details about how Vinson came to board a commercial flight with a fever one day before being diagnosed with Ebola.
The CDC knew she had worked closely with Thomas Eric Duncan, and before her return flight to Dallas from Ohio, she told the CDC she had developed a fever and was about to board a plane, yet somehow was green-lighted to fly.
So Vinson flew from Cleveland aboard her Frontier Airlines flight with a cabin full of 132 other passengers. CDC director Tom Frieden says this should not have happened.
TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: She was in a group of individuals known to have exposure to Ebola. She should not have traveled on a commercial airline.
LAVANDERA: Children who may have had contact with passengers on that Frontier flight are at home today as several schools in Ohio and Texas are closed, a move that may be too little, too late. The federal government may decide to prevent the 76 Dallas hospital healthcare workers from flying. They're also considering lowering the threshold temperature for flight.
MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT INSPECTOR GENERAL: Yes, they have the power, and yes, it should be done. Commonsense has taken a holiday here.
LAVANDERA: While hazmat crews sanitize Amber Vinson's home, nurses are calling for better training and better protection.
FAITH CIPRIANO, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN NURSES ASSOCIATION: What we really need to do is a one-on-one conversation to say here's what we need, here's the education. Here's the training. Here's the equipment, and we want to be assured that we can safely take care of our patients and also keep ourselves safe.
LAVANDERA: On a positive front, none of those who had contact with Duncan outside of the hospital, including Louise Troh, who he was staying with, have developed symptoms. And their window for risk of infection is closing.
(END VIDEOTAPE) LAVANDERA: But Wolf, really the biggest concern at this point seems to be at least nearly 50 healthcare workers who had contact with Thomas Eric Duncan in those early days. Officials here say they're closely monitoring those people, and another slice of good news is that, as Nina Pham prepares to be transferred to Maryland, the hospital released a statement this afternoon, saying that she -- in Nina Pham's words, that she's doing really well -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's hope she makes a complete recovery here in the Washington, D.C., area in Bethesda, Maryland. Ed Lavandera, thanks very much.
We know that the nurse, Nina Pham, will be flown to Maryland's Frederick Municipal Airport not very far away from the NIH headquarters, the National Institutes of Health. That's where preparations for her arrival are under way right now.
CNN's Brian Todd is on the scene for us over there.
Brian, what are you hearing at NIH?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At NIH, Wolf, we're hearing it's just a few hours from her arrival, possibly between 9 and 11 p.m. Eastern Time. You mentioned she's probably going to be going through the Frederick Municipal Airport about 40 miles north of here, then brought by ambulance to this very specialized facility here at the National Institutes of Health. It's called the special clinical studies unit, and one official here told me it, quote, "goes beyond contamination."
This is a high containment unit, very isolated rooms. Only two beds for Ebola patients. She's going to occupy one of them. Of course, the other one is empty. The staff here is going to be wearing hazmat material. Very specialized equipment.
One other fact we were just told: the air in her room is -- it's so kind of finally monitored, that the air is not going to be allowed to leave her room, and no outside air will come in. They have high- powered respirators working inside her room. That's one feature here.
And, you know, he was -- Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the allergy and infectious diseases division here at NIH, was asked earlier today why transfer her here? And he said, well, to get her the best state-of-the-art care.
We're also told, Wolf, this came at the request of Texas Presbyterian Hospital, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, which is overwhelmed right now with this crisis.
This hospital in Dallas has as many as 50 healthcare workers who may have been exposed to Ebola. And here's a statement today from Texas Health Presbyterian hospital.
Quote, "With many of the medical professionals who would normally staff the intensive care unit sidelined for continuous monitoring, it is in the best interests of the hospital employees, nurses, physicians and the community to give the hospital an opportunity to prepare for whatever comes next."
So Wolf, you've got a combination of factors here. This is a highly specialized unit behind me. Really just heavily trained. The staff heavily trained in how to deal with these patients but also Texas Health Presbyterian hospital very overwhelmed by the situation at hand.
BLITZER: And I take it, Brian, that the healthcare professionals there at NIH, who will deal with Nina Pham -- doctors, the nurses, the others -- they will have really amazing protective gear to make sure they don't contract Ebola?
TODD: Absolutely right, Wolf. First of all, they're highly trained in just how to deal with these types of diseases. She is the first Ebola patient actually diagnosed with Ebola to actually -- to come here. There was one other patient who had Ebola symptoms who was exposed to Ebola who came here in late September. He turned out to not have Ebola. So she is the first actual Ebola patient to come here.
But yes, the staff members here, the nurses, the doctors, the other staff members are going to be wearing protective gloves, gowns, foot coverings, all of that hazmat material. Every time they go in and out of that unit, it's going to be heavily monitored for any possible breaches. We know that that's been, obviously, a huge problem in this prolonged story.
So yes, the staff here very cognizant of it, very highly trained on how to deal with these patients.
BLITZER: And we're showing viewers live pictures overhead of NIH in Bethesda, Maryland, courtesy of our affiliate, WUSA here in Washington, D.C. We'll stay on top of this part of the story. Brian, stand by.
Meanwhile, there's growing political fallout from the Ebola crisis, much of it landing on the White House. Our senior White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is working this part of the story for us.
Jim, what do you know?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the president signed an executive order today authorizing the deployment of National Guard members and reservists to West Africa to support the Ebola response.
But despite the fact that the president canceled another day of campaigning today to work on Ebola here at the White House, there have been no sightings of him today.
ACOSTA (voice-over): One day after President Obama urged top officials to get aggressive in the fight against Ebola...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding is that she reported no symptomsto us.
ACOSTA: ... there were more mixed messages from his administration, this time over whether the U.S. should impose a travel ban on flights in and out of West Africa. The White House press secretary dismissed the idea.
JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It would provide a direct incentive for individuals seeking to travel to the United States to go underground and to seek to evade this screening and to not be candid about their travel history in order to enter the country.
TODD: CDC Director Thomas Frieden left the door open during a congressional hearing.
REP. TIM MURPHY (R), PENNSYLVANIA: Is this going to be a maintained position of the administration, that there will be no travel restrictions?
TOM FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: We will consider any options to better protect Americans.
TODD: With just weeks before the midterm elections, members of the president's party were in open revolt, hammering the administration's response.
REP. DANA DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: It would be an understatement to say that the response to the first U.S.-based patient with Ebola has been mismanaged, causing risk to scores of additional people.
TODD: Democratic Congressman Bruce Braley is running for a Senate seat in Iowa, piled on.
REP. BRUCE BRALEY (D), IOWA: I'm greatly concerned, as Congresswoman DeGette has that the administration did not act fast enough.
TODD: And the White House didn't even seem to mind.
A fair criticism?
EARNEST: Well, Mr. Braley has a reputation of being willing to speak truth to power, whether they're in the same party as him or not.
TODD: Top Republicans, like the president's one-time rival Mitt Romney, say the Ebola response is another symptom of a broken presidency.
MITT ROMNEY, FORMER GOVERNOR OF MASSACHUSETTS: But this administration couldn't run the IRS right, and apparently is not running the CDC right. And you ask yourself, what is it going to take to have a president who really focused on the interests of the American people?
ACOSTA: Now, the president has made calls to congressional leaders today about this and will make calls later on today. But even with all of this fear out there about Ebola and what might happen across the country, the White House says the president has no plans to address the nation formally. Wolf, they just don't plan to do that right now. They say one is not needed.
BLITZER: They are taking it day-by-day, I am sure. All right. Thanks very much, Jim Acosta.
Take a look at these pictures I want to show our viewers. Once again, these live pictures from NIH that we're getting, courtesy of our affiliate, WUSA, here in Washington, D.C., area. This is Bethesda, Ma Nina Pham, the 26-year-old nurse who contracted Ebola from the Liberian Thomas Eric Duncan will be flown. She's going to be flown there for specialized treatment. She'll be arriving later on tonight. We're all over the story. The other nurse, the 29-year-old nurse, has been flown to the Emory Hospital in Atlanta. Both of nurses now out of Dallas.
Let's talk about all of this with our guest, Republican Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana. He took part in the Ebola hearings upon Capitol Hill today.
You're the majority whip, Mr. Congressman. Thanks very much for joining us.
REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), LOUISIANA: Good to be with you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Did you get the answers you were looking for?
SCALISE: No. I fact, there were many questions from both parties that I don't think were answered adequately by the head of the CDC. Very direct questions, like ones that should be prepared answers.
One is, what about the protocols? You know, there seems to be a disconnect right now where just a few days ago the head of CDC said protocols were breached by the nurses in Texas; and yet we had the head of the hospital in Texas saying that they followed all of the protocols. So somebody is not being accurate, and that's an important question, because the protocols were followed, that means CDC doesn't have adequate protocols, and I think that's been confirmed that they haven't handled this properly.
But you've also got another serious question. One of the questions I raised was, all our troops -- we've got over 300 troops right now over in those three West African countries. President Obama wants to bring 3,000 troops to those countries.
And he -- I asked the head of the CDC if he had a high level of confidence that our troops were protected from contracting Ebola, and he would not express a high level of confidence that the troops currently there that contracted it.
BLITZER: I think they want to bring 4,000 U.S. troops to Liberia to get involved in this. And you just heard Jim Acosta, White House correspondent, say the president just signed paperwork authorizing the calling up of National Guard and reservist to help out in this kind of operation. You're not questioning the need to send the troops there. You're just wondering if they'll be safe. Is that right?
SCALISE: If they send troops, they ought to ensure that our troops will be protected against contracting Ebola. If you're going to send them right into harm's way, the first thing you do is give them the tools that they need to make sure that they can come home safely.
In this case, if you're sending them into a region where you know thousands of people have Ebola, can you guarantee that they're not going to get Ebola or you take all of the steps necessary? And when the head of the CDC, who's working with the Department of Defense to establish those protocols can't give a high level of confidence in a committee hearing that our troops will be protected, that raises some very serious red flags.
BLITZER: So you're saying hold off on deploying these troops until you know for sure they will be secured. Is that what you're saying?
SCALISE: What I'm saying is get this right. Make sure that our troops are fully protected if you're going to send them there. Just like we raised questions about allowing people from those countries to come into the United States, because they thought early off that they could ensure that nobody coming over would have Ebola and anyone that was treated in our hospitals for Ebola wouldn't pass it on to healthcare workers. Clearly, that hasn't been the case. Surely my prayers go out to the two nurse who tested positive. They've got to do a better job at CDC.
BLITZER: They've got to do -- across the board, everybody has got to do a better job. This is sort of new territory for a lot of these healthcare professionals.
I want you to stand by for a moment, Congressman. We have a lot more questions. You have a lot more answers. We'll take a quick look once again at NIH. They're getting ready to receive Nina Pham, the 26- year-old nurse who has Ebola. Clearly, they didn't think they could do the job adequately at Dallas, so they're bringing her to Bethesda, Maryland, outside Washington, D.C., the National Institutes of Health.
We'll take a quick break. More of our special coverage right after this.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. The impending transfer of another Ebola-stricken nurse. Nina Pham, 26 years old, is being moved from the Dallas hospital where she contracted the virus to a special isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. You're looking at live pictures right outside of Washington, D.C. We're talking about the Ebola crisis with the Republican congressman, Steve Scalise, of Lousiana. He's the House Majority Whip.
Congressman, you want a travel ban, right? You don't want people from those three West African countries to be allowed into the United States for the time being. Is that right? SCALISE: Right. What I've asked for is for the president to institute the travel ban until such time that they can ensure that people coming over from those Western African countries won't be bringing Ebola with them. And they can't make that assurance right now. So again, they've got to get these protocols right. They're not ready for that yet. So at that point, we know in an isolated way where this disease is coming from. We want to make sure it doesn't come into the United States more than it has.
BLITZER: What about non-Liberians or people from Sierra Leone or Guinea. What if an American is there? Should that American citizen who happened to be there for the last two months be allowed to come back home?
SCALISE: If they've been in contact with someone who has Ebola, at least have that 21-day gestation period where it can be determined whether or not they've contracted Ebola. And then, at a minimum, again, if you won't put a travel ban in place, President Obama ought to at least look at ensuring that non-U.S. citizens are not issued visa to come into the United States from those there nations until we can determine that Americans will be safe and that Ebola won't be brought into our country more than it already has.
BLITZER: Congress -- you want Congress to take specific action to protect Americans from Ebola, right?
SCALISE: The president is the...
BLITZER: I'm wondering what Congress -- forget about the president for a moment. Is there anything Congress can do?
SCALISE: Congress has done everything it needs to do. And in fact, you had a hearing today where earlier the CDC has expressed that he's got all the resources that he needs from Congress. They surely didn't ask for additional resources today. If they need more, we'll be ready to give that to them, but in the meantime, the president has some very specific things he can do today to protect Americans even more.
BLITZER: If they ask for more money, will Congress appropriate more money?
SCALISE: If they show a need for more money, we will make sure that they have all the tools that they need and has not been an issue. They surely didn't express the need for more money today.
BLITZER: One of the concerns they had is that these forced budget cuts over the last couple years reduced the opportunities for NIH, for the CDC, for the others, for example, with a vaccine to deal with Ebola. Is that a fair criticism?
SCALISE: The agencies haven't said that. Some people are trying to politicize it and made that claim. They've been issued four Pinnochios by some of the outside think tanks. But ultimately, if you look at the money they've gotten, CDC got a 200 percent increase in their budget since 2000. They've gotten official funds. They have all the funds they need, most importantly now to get through this crisis. If they need any additional funds, we'll work with them.
BLITZER: NIH people over there, they've complained that their money isn't where it should be.
SCALISE: They ought to change some of those priorities. In fact, we've questioned some of the funding priorities at some of those agencies where they're studying monkeys drinking alcohol and other things that I don't think should be their top priority. They have the ability to shift those dollars around. Again, if they have any impediments to that, they could have brought them to our attention. Today, they surely did.
But money has not been be an issue; surely wasn't raised as an issue. They've got to get better about the protocols. That's where there's a serious breakdown. It's not just members of Congress. You've had groups like Doctors Without Borders, Samaritan's Purse, other agencies who have worked with Ebola patients in Western African countries for decades that have recently said that CDC's protocols were lax. And, in fact, one of the officials of Samaritan's Purse told CDC that, and he said he was blown off.
And I asked the head of the CDC about that. You ought to be concerned about it. We don't want a culture over there of taking this issue lightly. And if he's got people in his agency that are blowing people off who know how to do this better, he ought to find out who they are and fire them.
BLITZER: Tom -- Dr. Tom Frieden is the director of the CDC. Do you have confidence in him?
SCALISE: I have some real questions that I presented to him, and he didn't give answers yet.
SCALISE: I think he ought to, today in the committee hearing, that he ought to give the American people those answers. Not just questions that I asked for concerns in my district and beyond my district but questions that other members of the committee, Republican/Democratic ask. He still didn't answer a number of those questions.
He ought to come forward with that, very transparent, and address the problems even within his own agency if there are problems. He ought to go clean those out. If there are employees that haven't taken this seriously enough, concerns raised about one of the nurses who called in and said she had a fever, can she get on a plane, and someone at CDC said, "Yes, get on a plane." Is he finding out who those people are at his agency? Are they taking their job seriously?
BLITZER: You're not ready to call for his resignation yet?
BLITZER: But your colleagues are...
SCALISE: I want him to have a higher level of accountability for people within his agency. Again, if somebody at one of these organizations that works with people in Africa for decades says that CDC is lax and then someone at CDC should find out who that was and have that person fired.
BLITZER: You represent Louisiana, at least parts of Louisiana, including part of New Orleans. Are the hospitals in your district ready to deal? If somebody showed up at an emergency room in one of the hospitals in your district in Louisiana, would they be ready to deal with that?
SCALISE: I've spoken to hospital officials and other medical officials in my district in Southeast Louisiana, and they said one of the big frustrations they have is that they continue to get mixed signals from the CDC. Ultimately, CDC sends protocols, not just to the Texas hospital in Dallas, but to all the hospitals across the country, and they continue to change and move the goal post. They want to see consistency. They want to see a more aggressive approach as to what those consistent protocols are. They haven't gotten that yet.
But they're ready. They're going to handle it however they can. But they haven't gotten clear direction yet from the CDC.
BLITZER: But do they have the protective gear to protect nurses and doctors if somebody walks in with Ebola and is showing symptoms, has the fever, vomiting, stuff like that? Do they have all the gear that they need to make sure that they don't get sick?
SCALISE: I can't speak to whether each individual hospital has all the gear they need. I know that they've been following the CDC protocols. Their frustration is those protocols change, sometimes on a weekly basis, which makes it very hard to have confidence and credibility that the information that they're getting, they're telling employees to follow, ultimately, when it changes again, people start questioning whether or not there's confidence.
BLITZER: What we don't want to see in Louisiana or anyplace around the United States is somebody who was just in Liberia show up with a 103 temperature, and they send them back home and they say take some -- take some aspirin.
SCALISE: And that's why we said, when CDC still cannot give that level of confidence today that everybody knows how to treat it that comes here, shouldn't we go to the source and say, don't let anybody in that's had contact with someone from Ebola from those three countries until you know that you can handle them properly in America.
BLITZER: Congressman Steve Scalise, the majority whip. Thanks very much for joining us. Thanks, Wolf. Great to be with you.
Coming up, growing concern about the flight one of the Ebola victims took just hours before she was hospitalized and why was she allowed to board in the first place? We're learning new and troubling details.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. The Ebola-stricken nurse Nina Pham being transferred by air ambulance from Dallas, Texas, to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, tonight, just outside Washington, D.C.
All this just a day, another nurse from Texas, Amber Vinson, was moved from Dallas to Atlanta at Emory University Hospital for treatment. Her case is raising extra alarm because of the commercial flight she took just hours before she was hospitalized.
CNN aviation correspondent Rene Marsh is over at Dulles International Airport outside Washington with more.
What are you hearing over there, Rene?
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, what I can tell you happening right now is six frontier airlines crew members. They are at home. They are self-monitoring. They are on paid leave for 21 days. Again, they were self-monitoring for symptoms of Ebola. The airline doing this out of an abundance of caution.
Also, what the airline is doing, with that plane, Flight 1143, they are removing all of the seat covers as we speak. They are also removing carpeting. They are also removing environmental filters. We know that that is happening and that plane is not in service as we speak either.
They are also in the process of contacting hundreds of passengers who were on board that flight just to notify them that they shared a plane with Amber Vinson. But they are not stopping there. They are also notifying people who were on that very plane when it made several other trips after Vinson's flight.
So they are really trying to get out ahead of this and let people know if they were on this plane and they have any concerns, give them the necessary phone numbers to help officials so they can get their questions answered -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene, 24 hours ago, the director of the CDC, Dr. Tom Frieden, said that Amber Vinson should never have boarded that plane in the first place. Then we received word that she actually, what, called the CDC, reported her slight fever and they said go ahead, fly back to Dallas from Cleveland? What is the CDC saying about that?
MARSH: Well, Wolf, in this hearing, which happened on Capitol Hill just hours ago, the CDC director was asked that question point blank. Unfortunately, the answer was not as direct as the question. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DIANE DEGETTE (D), COLORADO: October 13th, Amber Vinson, who was self-monitoring, she presented with a fever and she was told by your agency she could board the plane. Is that right?
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: That is my understanding. DEGETTE: Now your protocol --
FRIEDEN: I need to correct that.
FRIEDEN: I have not reviewed exactly what was said but she did contact our agency and she did board the plane.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARSH: All right. Well, although we did not get a clear answers to the details of the conversation that Vinson had with CDC, we do know that the CDC clearly realizes that a stronger system needs to be put in place. We know from officials that they are considering expanding their what's called no board list. Before this, the no board list was intended only for people with known infectious diseases.
However, there is a discussion that is ongoing as to whether that list will be expanded to now also include people who are being monitored for this deadly disease -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Rene, over at Dulles International Airport outside Washington, thanks very much.
We have news coming in from the White House. Let's go to our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
What have you just learned, Jim?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we were wondering if we're ever going to see the president today. He cancelled these campaign events so he could stay here at the White House and work on Ebola.
And we just got word in the last several minutes that the president is meeting right now with members of his upper team who are working on the Ebola problem right now, the National Security Adviser Susan Rice, the chief of staff Denis McDonough, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, and the man who was on the hot seat earlier today up on Capitol Hill, the CDC director Thomas Frieden.
Wolf, this was literally just announced in the last several minutes and they are letting cameras go in, in about a few minutes from now. So we may hear from the president and once we find out what exactly is said in there, we'll bring that to you.
BLITZER: And we'll hear from the president. The cameras will be in there. They'll be rolling, obviously, those cameras. We won't see it live but we will get the tape right away.
Is that what you're saying?
ACOSTA: That's right. And if they are allowing journalists in there, which is what we expect, questions might get asked and hopefully answered. And so when that happens we'll get that to you. BLITZER: All right. We'll have coverage of the president, presumably
he'll be speaking out on what's going on. We heard from him 24 hours ago. Presumably we're about to hear from him right now.
Thanks very much, Jim. As soon as you get that tape, let us know.
Let's go back to the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, where preparations are now under way for the arrival of the Texas nurse, the Ebola patient Nina Pham.
Brian Todd is still over there.
What else are you learning, Brian?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're within a couple of hours, probably, of Nina Pham of arriving here. Probably a few hours, between 9:00 and 11:00 p.m. she's supposed to arrive here at the Special Clinical Studies Unit at the National Institutes of Health.
This is a high containment, highly specialized unit. One official here characterizes it as, quote, "beyond isolation." The doctors and nurses, other staff attending to Miss Pham are going to be wearing tie-back suits. These are polyurethane suits with the protections woven into them. Shoe covers, isolation gowns, gloves, and the air in her room, these special circulation they've got powered air purifying respirators in that room, meaning that basically no outside air comes in and the air in there does not go out.
Now all of the specialized training, the specialized facility is a huge reason that Nina Pham is being brought here but another reason, Wolf, is because Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital has been overwhelmed by the experience of having to potentially treat maybe up to 50 health care workers there who have been exposed to Ebola.
Here is Tom Frieden, the CDC director, talking about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FRIEDEN: Two individuals did become infected. Others may. That makes it quite challenging to operate and the hospital and we felt it would be more prudent to focus on caring for any patients who come in, any health care workers or others who might come in with symptoms.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: Now as for the actual treatment that Nina Pham is going to be receiving here, that's classified. Officials here say that they cannot tell us what kind of drugs and other treatment she's going to be receiving citing patient privacy laws -- Wolf.
BLITZER: And we'll be standing by. I know that flight from Dallas to Maryland will be taking off pretty soon. We'll see what happens.
And, Brian, very quickly, she lands -- the plane will land, the private plane will land at Frederick, Maryland. Is that right? TODD: We are told, Wolf, that it will very likely land at Frederick
Municipal Airport. That's about 35 miles north of here. It's a smaller airport with less traffic and probably just a lot less buzz around it than some of the major airports in the D.C. area will have. So that's one of the major reasons and it's got pretty easy access to this facility, probably transported here, either land or possibly an air ambulance to this facility.
BLITZER: And so they have -- a secured transportation, I assume, from Frederick back to NIH so you think she may be helicoptered?
BLITZER: Is that what you're saying?
TODD: It's possible, Wolf. Not quite clear yet how that's going to unfold. She may be transferred by a regular vehicle ambulance or possibly by helicopter here. They do have a landing pad here and a facility to accommodate a helicopter but not quite clear exactly how she's going to be transported at this time. We're going to try to get that information soon.
BLITZER: All right. Brian, thanks very much. It's a huge complex, the NIH complex, in Bethesda.
Just ahead, much more on the Ebola crisis as another patient is moved out of Texas, concerns about contagion have led to the closing of schools and the grounding of a flight crew.
And U.S. airstrikes are stemming an ISIS advances in Syria, we're now told, but the jihadists clearly there still very much on the move.
We'll have the late-breaking developments when we come back.
BLITZER: 14 new airstrikes in and around the besieged Syrian border town of Kobani and that's enabled Kurdish fighters to go on the offensive and even take back some of the ground from ISIS.
Our chief national security correspondent Jim Sciutto is here in THE SITUATION ROOM. He's got the very latest -- Jim.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, that good news about ISIS being pushed back in Kobani only possible because of a massive allocation of U.S. air power there.
Look at this. Since the start of the campaign, Kobani has now been the target of 122 airstrikes. That's more than the Mosul dam, a key piece of infrastructure and a key victory so far for the U.S.-led coalition gaining that back from ISIS at 98. More than Irbil, the capital of Kurdistan. U.S. allies there, the Kurdish Peshmerga, only 41. And look at Baghdad, the capital of Iraq, 27 airstrikes since the state of the campaign, just one-fifth of what you see in Kobani.
In fact, in the last week there have been 85 airstrikes in Kobani, just one in Baghdad. And it raises an important question because U.S. officials have said from the beginning, while there's a humanitarian crisis here in Kobani, it's not strategically important.
I challenged the Pentagon press secretary John Kirby today, here's how he answered.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: What are the strategic targets then in Iraq and Syria and why isn't the U.S.-led coalition striking it more if -- particularly, as you're focusing so much air power now on what has been repeatedly described as not essential to the victory?
REAR ADM. JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: It is -- it matters to us because it matters to them and they want it.
SCIUTTO: It's not just about, you know, why Kobani, it's why not more elsewhere? And -- because it gets to, are you running out of targets?
KIRBY: Your question gets at what we would consider -- what we'd call strategic patience. That's what needs to happen here. But I can assure you that Kobani is not the end there. There will be more strikes in more places and against more targets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCIUTTO: So this is one place where you will need strategic patience because when you look at the overall map, territory controlled by ISIS today and before the start of the campaign, there's not a lot of movement.
Here in Syria, Kobani, some positive progress, but 24 days ago when the airstrikes started, ISIS controlled 10 cities. Today, still controls 10 cities. And when you cross the border over into Iraq, similar situation. Airstrikes there started 69 days ago, more than two months. At the start ISIS controlled 13 cities. They now control 14 since the start of the campaign, Hit has fallen to ISIS and now Ramadi still under contention. Some other smaller villages here under contention as well.
But what's really key is when you look at the province, of Anbar Province, this here is now virtually under control of ISIS. Key because of its proximity to Baghdad. You've heard from multiple U.S. officials about their concern that the whole province can fall.
And that's a real problem, Wolf, going forward. This is something that we're going to do every week now is look at the progress of the campaign in terms of territory and so far, in terms of territory, it does not look like a success.
BLITZER: And I know they are only 10 or 12 miles from the Baghdad International Airport which is a huge source of concern for U.S. officials.
All right. Jim, thanks very much. Just ahead, I'll have much more on the Ebola crisis as a second nurse
is now being moved out of Dallas. Are there growing concerns about the contagion realistic? Stand by.
And the hunt for the missing Virginia student Hannah Graham entering a new phase. We have late-breaking details.
BLITZER: Today marks the new start of the new phase in the search for the missing University of Virginia student Hannah Graham. She vanished more than a month ago.
Joining us now, CNN law enforcement analyst, the former FBI assistant director Tom Fuentes, along with investigative journalist Coy Barefoot who's joining us from Charlottesville.
What's the latest on the search, Coy?
COY BAREFOOT, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Wolf, it is the biggest, the most complicated, the most extensive and now the longest running search for any missing human being in the history of the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The search for Hannah Graham kicked into the second phase this morning. The Virginia Department of Emergency Management and their team were at the National Guard Armory today, just south of town. They are on ATVs, they've got the dogs, they're out on horseback, they're in planes. And they are taking back to the woods around Virginia, looking for any sign of Hannah Graham.
The plan is this, they're going to go back and look very carefully at some of those spots in that eight-mile radius that particularly gave them some trouble over the last few weeks. Some really -- really complicated places within that radius that needed some extra attention.
And I should say as a quick side bar, I have been asked many times, why eight miles? What's special about that eight-mile radius? And here's where it comes from. When a child goes missing, they are most likely to be found within a five-mile radius. When an adult goes missing, they're most likely to be found within a 10-mile radius.
Hannah Graham is a teenager. She's 18. So they split the difference at eight miles. And Morgan Harrington, who went missing here in Charlottesville, her remains were found 7.8 miles from where she went missing five years ago tomorrow -- Wolf.
BLITZER: She was abducted back in 2009, five years ago, Morgan Harrington.
What is this new phase, the second phase, Tom, mean to you?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I think it means that they're just not positive that they didn't miss something the first time covering within that eight-mile area as Coy mentioned. The only question I would have is that you have to factor in here. They've charged Jesse Matthews with abducting her, and how far could he have gotten in the car.
So if they try to go by how long was he -- from the time he was seen in the videos to the time he returns pack to his apartment, how much time was that, how far could he have driven. That certainly can change the whole aspect of the eight-mile search.
BLITZER: And speaking of Morgan Harrington, Hannah Graham, Morgan disappeared five years ago, Hannah Graham just five weeks ago. They are also suspicious about other missing young women, aren't they?
BAREFOOT: That's absolutely true, Wolf. We can go back to Morgan in 2009, Cassandra Morton in Lynchburg which is just south of Charlottesville. She disappeared exactly one week before Morgan here in Charlottesville. Her body was found on a mountain overlooking Liberty University where L.J. Matthew was a student.
There's also Sage here in Charlottesville, Sage Smith. There's Samantha Clark in Orange just outside of town. There are two women in -- this summer that disappeared in Charlottesville. And this community is absolutely focused on finding out what is going on here in central Virginia.
BLITZER: All right. Coy Barefoot, thanks. We'll keep checking back with you.
Tom Fuentes, thanks to you, as well.
Coming up, full coverage of the Ebola crisis here in the United States. Another infected nurse is now being moved out of Dallas as concerns about the contagion grow ground a flight crew and closed schools. Are the concerns overblown? What's going on? We'll have full coverage.