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THE SITUATION ROOM
Ebola in America; Interview With Florida Governor Rick Scott; Texas Nurse with Ebola Being Moved to Maryland; Florida Governor Debate Hits the Fan;
Aired October 16, 2014 - 18:00 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. She's on her way, the first nurse in the United States to come down with Ebola is being moved from Dallas to one of the nation's top hospitals just outside Washington, D.C.
Apology and criticism. A top official at the Dallas hospital where two nurses caught the virus tells Congress -- and I'm quoting -- "We made mistakes." But now the hospital is the target of scathing criticism from its own nurses.
Also, fan gate debate. Florida Governor Rick Scott is at the center of a political hurricane, all because he delayed his entrance for a debate over his objection to his opponent's electric fan inside a lectern. Tonight, Governor Scott is here in THE SITUATION ROOM to explain what he was thinking.
And down outright murder. A new report puts a witness to the Ferguson police shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown. But is this new version of events trustworthy?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on the Ebola crisis.
Right now, President Obama is holding another meeting with his top Ebola team, Cabinet officials and the director for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. We will keep our eyes out for anything new coming from the White House. We expect a statement from the president.
All this comes as there are now some new dramatic developments involving both nurses who now have the virus. We have just learned that Amber Vinson, who is being treated in Atlanta, may have had Ebola symptoms as early as last Friday. Also, the first nurse to become infected in Dallas should arrive here in the Washington, D.C., area in the next few hours. Nina Pham will be treated at the National Institutes of Health.
At a congressional hearing today up on Capitol Hill, a top official of the company that runs the Dallas hospital where all this happened apologized. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
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 diagnosis symptoms as those of Ebola and we are deeply sorry.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: As the fear of Ebola spreads, we're watching as another major airport begins screening arriving passengers and we're keeping our eyes on reports of suspicious illnesses in cities around the country. We have our crews and medical experts outside the three U.S. hospitals now involved in treating Ebola with our correspondents and newsmakers. They are watching all aspects of this Ebola story.
Let's begin though with a new concern about a flight taken by Amber Vinson, the second nurse to contract the virus at that Dallas hospital. The CDC says she may have had Ebola symptoms as early as last Friday. That's when she flew initially from Dallas to Cleveland. And federal health officials now say they will contact passengers from that Frontier Airlines flight as well.
They have already reached out to passengers from Vinson's return flight from Cleveland back to Dallas on Monday. She was hospitalized just hours after arriving back in Dallas.
Let's go to CNN's Ed Lavandera. He's in Dallas.
Ed, tell us what you're hearing.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this development just coming in to us now is a quote from a CDC doctor, Chris Braden, telling "The Cleveland Plain Dealer" that -- quote -- "We have started to look at the possibility that she had symptoms, Amber Vinson, going back to as far as Saturday."
Obviously, this would be of great concern now, not only to the people who took the flight with her from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday, that was Frontier Airlines Flight 1143, but also going back to that initial flight that she took from Dallas to Cleveland last Friday, as you mentioned, Wolf.
Now, it was interesting, because CDC officials have been saying she should not have gotten on that flight, even though our reporting shows she had been told by CDC officials it was OK to get on that flight. Obviously, news that is of great concern to those people who were on those flights. All of this coming as we heard from one of the nurses kind of speaking out and criticizing the protocol procedures and the safety procedures that were in place to protect the health care workers inside Presbyterian Hospital when Thomas Eric Duncan was first admitted here to the hospital for those Ebola symptoms.
As you heard from one of the executives of the hospital today, the hospital has apologized for not diagnosing the Ebola symptoms quicker and earlier, but a great deal of intensity here, this, Wolf, as the hospital is really struggling. They have moved -- or are in the process of at least moving Nina Pham out of this hospital.
And the city officials here in Dallas, Wolf, are saying they are expecting at least several more health care workers to be admitted here to the hospital with Ebola-like symptoms. At least that's what they're preparing for -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Do we know -- and I just want to be precise on this -- when she called, Amber Vinson, the 29-year-old nurse who took that flight to Cleveland? Did she call the CDC to check if it was OK in Dallas before she initiated the whole flight or did she call from Cleveland just before her return?
LAVANDERA: My understanding was that it was on the way back. And then that's when she was given the go-ahead, according to our reporting, to get on that flight on Monday.
And then it was Tuesday morning that she had turned up with a fever and that that Ebola diagnosis was made.
BLITZER: Because she supposedly had a slightly elevated fever, what, 99.5, before she boarded that flight to return back to Dallas. We assume that that's when she had called and they said they could go.
But now apparently she may have had some other symptoms even before leaving Dallas? I just want to be precise on this, Ed. Explain exactly what you're learning.
LAVANDERA: Well, this is the new part here, Wolf, is that perhaps more of those symptoms might have been in place several days earlier. That's the reporting we need to work on now, is getting a sense of just exactly what kind of symptoms these were, what kind of -- just how much -- if it was a fever, if it was any other kind of symptoms.
There is also the possibility that those were in play on that Friday. And that's why that initial flight from Dallas to Cleveland is now something we need to take a much closer look at. This is something that is just starting to develop and we need to start digging into a lot more here in the coming hours.
BLITZER: All right, stand by, Ed Lavandera in Dallas for us.
We're also, by the way, standing by to hear from President Obama. He's been meeting with his top experts, his Cabinet officials, others on the whole issue of Ebola and what the United States should be doing about this, his so-called coordinating Ebola team. We expect a statement from the president momentarily. Once that comes in, we will share it with you, of course.
We also expect that Nina Pham will be arriving at the National Institutes of Health some time tonight. The hospital is just outside Washington, D.C., in Bethesda, Maryland.
Brian Todd is on the location for us. Update our viewers, what we know about this second nurse.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we're now within just a few hours of Nina Pham's expected arrival here at the Special Clinical Studies Unit at NIH.
This is a sophisticated, highly specialized isolation facility now preparing to receive its first-ever patient actually diagnosed with Ebola.
TODD (voice-over): She's an intensive care nurse who will now receive the most intensive care possible. Nina Pham, the 26-year-old nurse who become the first health care worker to be infected with Ebola, is coming here, a special isolation unit at the National Institutes of Health. It's one of only four in the United States. What's behind the move?
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH: To give the state-of-the-art care in a containment facility of highly trained individuals that are capable of taking care of her.
TODD: But CNN is also told this transfer came at the request of Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, a facility overwhelmed by this crisis. Officials say that hospital has at least 50 health care workers who may have been exposed to Ebola.
DR. THOMAS FRIEDEN, CDC DIRECTOR: That makes it quite challenging to operate 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.
TODD: At NIH, Nina Pham will be in a special section that one official says is -- quote -- "beyond isolation," a high-containment unit scrubbed to be completely sterile. Her room has its own circulation. Its own air stays inside. No outside air comes in. She's the first patient actually diagnosed with Ebola to be treated here and the people caring for her will take every possible precaution.
FAUCI: The people who will be coming into contact with her will be physicians, nurses and others who will be in personal protective equipment. Therefore, they are not restricted.
TODD: As for the actual treatment, that's classified. Officials say here they cannot discuss what actual drug protocols or specific treatment Nina Pham will be receiving, citing patient privacy laws -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nina Pham will be at NIH in Bethesda shortly. Brian, stand by for that.
I want to go to our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, our chief medical correspondent. He's in Atlanta right outside Emory University Hospital where Amber Vinson was transferred yesterday.
You're getting new information about the treatment that this nurse is now receiving, Sanjay, is that right? DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a little bit
more about some of the patterns inside the hospital there in Dallas when she was taking care of Mr. Duncan.
Remember, now, the timeline between the 28th and 30th of September, that is when there was suspicion that Mr. Duncan had Ebola, but had not yet been confirmed. He was in the intensive care unit, quite sick, and both these nurses were caring for him, nurse Pham and nurse Vinson.
We now talking to a source from the hospital, saying they were wearing personal protective gear, but it wasn't the full sort of -- quote -- "hazmat suit" that we have become used to seeing, but rather more of an impermeable gown, a hat and mask, but the exposed neck that I was shown a couple days ago as part of the demonstration, there were areas of the skin exposed.
So that was a change a bit in terms of the gear that people were wearing after the positive diagnosis came back. But before that, there was that more limited personal protective gear, Wolf. We have confirmed that.
We also got a little bit more details about just sort of what prompted the transfers here. It was a joint decision by the hospital there in Dallas, the hospital where the patients were being received and also the patients themselves. Part of it really revolved around this idea of hitting a reset button in Dallas. Got a lot of people who are being monitored. They're not able to work.
You have got obviously a lot of concern and fear among workers there right now. But they basically say they want to hit the reset button, figure out over the next few days, will anybody else get sick? And some people are still not out of the window. But interestingly enough, one of the hospital sources said within a couple of weeks, they do believe that if they got another Ebola patient in that hospital, they could take care of this. They feel like the lessons have been learned here. That's what they're telling me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Sanjay, I want you to stand by. Our other doctors, medical experts, they are standing by as well.
But I want to bring in right now RoseAnn DeMoro, and she's a director of the National Nurses United. That's a union.
Thanks very much for joining us, RoseAnn.
React to this apology we all heard today from the chief clinical officer for the Texas Health Services. What do you say? Do you accept that apology?
ROSEANN DEMORO, NATIONAL NURSES UNITED: You know, I -- that's a difficult one, because I have spoken with these nurses and the heartbreak that's going on in their lives and their families and the depth of their fear and the fear of so many people who work there is just unacceptable. But I don't -- having said that, that is the story that could be told
in every hospital across this country. The status quo is indefensible if it puts our nurses' lives in jeopardy. That's precisely what we have. We have got tremendous failures in the public sector and tremendous failures in the private sector. We have got faux debates going on in Congress in hearings.
What should happen is every health care worker in this country should have the protective equipment and the highest standards to be able to protect themselves and protect their patients. We're appalled by the level of discussion that's going on that doesn't save the lives of those who are on the front lines, today, right now, on the shifts in our hospitals in this country.
It's horrific to see the shallowness and the shifting sands in terms of guidelines and the CDC changing its mind, and the hospital apologizing and the congressional hearings, and the deflection when it's so simple. The CDC knows what to do. You see them completely donned in hazmat suits when they're transporting these patients.
Last night looked like the scene out of a science fiction movie in terms of how many people had hazmat suits on, this poor young woman coming down the runway having a very difficult time walking. Those hazmat suits should be available and on every R.N. and health care worker in this country who is taking care of patients.
We have made this demand to the president of the United States. We have asked him to order -- to enact an executive order that basically compels the hospitals to use the standards of the University of Nebraska, which we consider to be the optimal standards at this point, and if there are standards that are higher, to use those.
BLITZER: RoseAnn, you just heard our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta report that the Texas nurses in that Dallas hospital were not wearing the full, proper protective gear to protect themselves from Mr. Duncan. Was that a human error or lack of training? What was going on from your analysis?
DEMORO: A lack of a health care system in the United States of America. That's why it could happen everywhere. That could have been any hospital at any time in any city and it still can be.
The most alarming part of this city is it could happen right now as we're speaking in this program. This is a standard that is not in place anywhere. There's no infectious mandate in our hospitals to protect our nurses and our health care workers.
We have asked the president of the United States and Congress to do this. The CDC, even if the president -- if the CDC said the hospitals had to do this, the CDC doesn't have that power over the hospitals. What's missing from the agenda in Congress is giving the CDC, assuming they would have the highest standards, the authority to compel the hospitals to comply.
Instead, really, the only thing this government has is Medicare funding to be able to compromise that with these hospitals if they choose not to protect our workers.
BLITZER: RoseAnn, you do believe the highest standards are in place at Emory University Hospital, in Omaha, at the university of Nebraska, as well as NIH right outside of Washington, right?
DEMORO: It would appear so, except for the fact that what we have is two test cases at the University of Nebraska. We were hoping that that's the gold standard.
I can tell you, if this was a movie star or someone famous or rich in this country that was taking care of patients or was exposed, we would be having this discussion differently. It's the working people in this country whose lives are the front -- first line of defense for patients coming through the door. If there's anything I have to say in this program, it's to please protect the nurses and the caregivers who are there wanting to do a job, who are humanistic.
They shouldn't have to put their lives on the line for a failure of our policy-makers to protect them. And I'm so angry, and the nurses are so angry. We just finished a protest with Senator Bernie Sanders in front of Kaiser Permanente, one of the largest health care institutions in our country.
And you heard when the nurse gets on the plane, they are saying the nurse shouldn't have gotten on the plane, and then come to find out the nurse actually was following directions that she could get on the plane, that she actually had authority -- she thought she was going to the highest authority.
So the nurses actually have a campaign across the country, and they did this when Nina Pham was first diagnosed with Ebola, and that is stop blaming the nurses, because what was happening is that the hospitals, the CDC were saying the nurse didn't follow protocol.
When the nurses called us from the Dallas hospital, what we found out, lo and behold, there were no protocols. It was just chaos. But it could be chaos today everywhere. The nurses, we have 2,800 nurses now responding to a survey. And 85 percent of them are saying that they're not getting hands-on training from their hospitals.
So they're basically trying to figure this out and it's on them. It shouldn't be on them. It should be on our policy-makers. It should be on the institutions. Our hospitals are multibillion-dollar institutions. These aren't poor public health starving health care systems. Some of the public health is.
We have a country that has to re-look at its priorities when you have a crisis.
BLITZER: All right, RoseAnn DeMoro, thanks very much.
Take a look at this. These are live pictures coming in from Dallas. This is the hospital there where Nina Pham is about to be transferred. She's going to be leaving that hospital, flying in an air ambulance as it's called from Dallas to Frederick, Maryland, just not far away from Bethesda, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C., where she will be treated at the National Institutes of Health.
We will have live pictures of all of this throughout this hour.
I want to continue the discussion right now.
Let's bring in our chief medical correspondent once again, our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta, along with Erin Tolbert. She's an emergency room nurse practitioner. She's here with me in THE SITUATION ROOM.
Erin, thanks very much for joining us.
You just heard RoseAnn DeMoro. She obviously feels very strongly that the nurses -- and you're a nurse practitioner -- are not being well protected. Do you agree with her?
ERIN TOLBERT, EMERGENCY ROOM NURSE PRACTITIONER: I do.
There's really been a lack of a centralized coordinated response to this. For example, my hospital, they sent out a video of how to don this protective equipment, but it happened after this situation in Dallas much later. Some hospitals are not getting this. Like RoseAnn said, 85 percent of nurses are saying they received no information on this.
There's so many logistics involved in health care that not only do we need to get this information, we need to be able to practice it, hands-on training, and this is what's not happening in our hospitals.
BLITZER: Do all the nurses need to know this or just the nurses that work in an emergency room, for example?
TOLBERT: Well, emergency room is really the front lines of where the patients will most likely present.
For example, they will walk through the front door. They will come in by ambulance. That's really the front lines of where patients arrive into a hospital system. But all nurses need to know this because once a patient is identified, they will go to the ICU, for example. Sometimes nurses fill in on other floors of the hospital. The E.R. should be the focus, but other nurses need to be educated as well.
BLITZER: Erin, stand by. Sanjay, stand by. Everybody, stand by. We have much more to discuss, including air travel.
We're also live at Dulles International Airport outside of Washington, D.C., where some arriving passengers are about to start receiving Ebola screenings. Stay with us.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Take a look at this.
These are live pictures over at that Dallas, Texas, hospital where the nurse Nina Pham will soon be departing. She's going to be flown to Maryland and the National Institutes of Health right outside of Washington, D.C., where she will be treated for Ebola.
Let's go back to our panel of experts. Joining us once again, our chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, the tropical medicine specialist, our CNN medical analyst Dr. Xand van Tulleken, and Erin Tolbert. She's an emergency room nurse practitioner.
What does it say to you, Sanjay, that the nurse in this particular case, Amber Vinson, may have been showing at least some symptoms last Friday before she left Dallas for Cleveland? Supposedly she was feeling funny. They weren't described as typical Ebola symptoms, but she was showing something. She really wasn't getting a fever, a high, elevated fever shall we say until Monday. But what does it say to you that she was in fact showing some symptoms before she left Dallas?
GUPTA: It's hard to know, Wolf, with those vague sort of descriptions.
There are some things that you certainly want to look for when you're worried about someone being infected with Ebola. Take that in the context of there's so many things that are more likely to give someone more vague discomfort.
Given the fact that she had just taken care of someone with Ebola and the fact that she had extensive contact, as was described by Dr. Frieden in terms of her contact with Mr. Duncan, maybe it should have been taken a little bit more seriously.
I will say -- this just from piecing some things together -- that she sounds like she was pretty diligent about things, especially given the fact that three days later on the 13th, with a temperature of 99.5, that prompted a call from her to the CDC.
If a 99.5 temperature prompted a call from the CDC, I wonder if the symptoms on Friday were less than that, more vague or more minimal symptoms. I don't know. We're just speculating at this point. And also keep in mind I think the most salient question and point that people wonder about is, would she be at risk of transmitting the virus?
We know she would be at very low risk of transmitting the virus, even with a 99.5 temperature. If the symptoms were more minimal than that on Friday, it would be even lower risk, next to zero risk. So I don't think this poses an increased threat to the general public, but obviously if she had symptoms, they do want to investigate what those symptoms were and who she may have come in contact with during that time, Wolf.
BLITZER: Xand van Tulleken, she treated Thomas Eric Duncan last Wednesday and then two days later she leaves Dallas for Cleveland and she's beginning to feel, I suspect, according to these latest reports, a bit queasy.
What do you say? How contagious could she have been? Because the airlines, Frontier Airlines, they are now notifying passengers and crew members on that first flight from Dallas to Cleveland? Maybe there's a problem. DR. XAND VAN TULLEKEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think, as Sanjay said,
the odds of her having significant levels of virus in her blood are very, very low.
I think that the symptoms she was displaying aren't the kind of symptoms which would allow you to transmit it very effectively. She didn't have diarrhea or vomiting at the time she was traveling. So I think the risk of her transmitting an infection to anyone on that plane is extremely low.
But the really concerning thing, you know, I think Sanjay did a really good job of emphasizing this, is, I think she should have been at home, quarantined, having daily blood tests. I think any other speculation that she made a mistake, that she's been irresponsible, that she's been stupid, I think that that's a very, very unhelpful way of analyzing this problem.
Apart from the fact that I think she has been diligent, the protocol and the way that these cases are managed, when you're dealing with 70 people, you have to assume that some of them may be irresponsible and make mistakes. The protocol should have taken that into account.
So, in my mind, all of these people should have been at home with serial blood tests which could have detected Ebola long before or at least several days before she developed significant symptoms.
BLITZER: Erin Tolbert, you're an emergency room nurse practitioner.
you're hearing all these stories about this Amber Vinson, this nurse, should she have gotten on the plane, shouldn't she have gotten on the plane? What is your analysis?
TOLBERT: Well, it sounds like she did the right thing.
She was taking her temperature like she was supposed to. When she had a 99.5 degree temperature, she called the CDC and she asked for advice. Unfortunately, it sounds like the advice she was given wasn't very helpful. And so it sounds like she was really being diligent, using her knowledge as a medical provider to monitor herself.
We do typically consider a fever to be higher than 99.5. But in this case, extra precaution should have been taken. Any small change should have been considered and she should have been advised to stay at home.
BALDWIN: To stay in Dallas and not go there in the first place.
BLITZER: Because Sanjay, as you know, she was -- we're showing our viewers some live pictures over there outside the hospital in Dallas where a whole bunch of her supporters are defending what she did, saying she shouldn't be blamed, others should be blamed for any of the problems that clearly have developed.
But, what, on Wednesday, she was treating Thomas Eric Duncan in that awful situation. He was getting dialysis, all sorts of sophisticated treatment. And then Friday she heads out of town. Somebody should have told her, specifically, flatly, this is a bad idea, right?
GUPTA: Yes. I think so. Let me just give you a little bit of nuance to this, because I thought a couple of the answers in the hearings today about this very issue were a little bit unsatisfying.
So on one hand we hear from Dr. Frieden a few days ago that anybody who came in contact with Mr. Duncan, anybody who came in contact with someone who has Ebola, period, sort of are in this period of -- this movement period where they don't -- they shouldn't be on a commercial airline, period. If they're going to fly, it should be charter. They can drive but basically shouldn't be on a commercial flight.
And then, today during the hearing, he said, but she was wearing protective gear, so we think her risk was lower. I don't know if he was saying that that made it OK that she got on a commercial flight or what they meant.
It seems like the first policy, this coordinated movement policy that he outlined made sense. If they've come in contact, you're monitoring yourself like Alexander was just saying. You're monitoring yourself. You don't need to be quarantined, necessarily, but you shouldn't be getting on a commercial flight.
But you know, this is the confusion again, Wolf. Which is it? Could she have gotten on the flight? Was Dr. Frieden defending that or not defending that? Was that a mistake or was it not a mistake?
I think certainly, as I think both the other guests have said, the flight back from Cleveland to Dallas with a temperature, she shouldn't have gotten on that plane. And yet the CDC did not bar her from doing so.
BLITZER: Yes. Somebody clearly made a major, major mistake there.
All right. Sanjay, stand by. Zan Van Pelekin (ph), stand by. Erin Tolbert, I want you to stand by, as well. Much more on the breaking news right after this.
We're also waiting to hear from the president of the United States. He's about to speak out on this Ebola crisis.
BLITZER: We're following the breaking news. Take a look. These are live pictures coming from the Texas hospital where the nurse, Nina Pham, will soon be departing. She's going to be flown to Maryland, the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, right outside of Washington, D.C., where she will be treated for Ebola.
You'll see some of the other nurses, other healthcare professionals who are there. They're protesting some of the criticism of the nurses there at their hospital. They say that criticism is unfair. They're clearly supporting -- supporting Nina Pham. They're supporting Amber Vinson, the other nurse. She was transferred
yesterday from that Dallas hospital to the Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
You see the support that they're expressing here.
Momentarily, we expect Nina Pham to be leaving that hospital, heading over to the Alove (ph) Airfield in Dallas, where she'll be flown by air ambulance to Maryland, to the National Institutes of Health. We're also waiting, by the way, to hear from the president of the United States. He's been meeting with his top Ebola experts at the White House. He's about to make a statement. We'll have live coverage of that, as well. Stand by.
But there's other news we're following right now. The star of last night's controversial Florida governor debate was the portable fan. Get this, the portable fan at the feet of the Democratic challenger, Charlie Crist. The Florida governor, Rick Scott, is about to talk to us about this extremely unlikely event at that debate.
But first, let's get some background. Our national correspondent, Suzanne Malveaux, has the latest, putting it all together for us -- Suzanne.
SUZANNE MALVEAUX, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is one of the strangest moments in the 20 years that I have covered politics that I've seen here. And it is now making national headlines.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The two candidates who are invited to take part in this debate right now are not stepping up on the stage. Ladies and gentlemen, we have an extremely peculiar situation right now. We have Governor Charlie Crist. We have been told that Governor Scott will not be participating in this debate.
MALVEAUX (voice-over): Suddenly the rules of the debate became the biggest issue of the night.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Governor Crist has asked to have a fan, a small fan, placed underneath his podium. The rules of the debate that I was shown by the Scott campaign say that there should be no fan. Somehow there is a fan there, and for that reason, ladies and gentlemen, I am being told that Governor Scott will not join us for this debate.
MALVEAUX: And so Fan-gate was born. Crist seized the moment.
CHARLIE CRIST, FORMER GOVERNOR OF FLORIDA: Are we really going to debate about a fan or are we going to talk about education and the environment and the future of our state?
MALVEAUX: It was one of the strangest seven minutes in the history of political debates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My understanding is that Governor Scott will be coming out. Frank, ever seen anything like this? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I haven't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ladies and gentlemen, that has to be the most unique beginning to any debate.
MALVEAUX: Charlie Crist's portable electric fan has reportedly been blowing at his feet since he ran for education commissioner in 2000. Florida Republicans this morning created a "Crist hit the fan" hash tag, showing it from on high, down low, by its lonesome, and double teamed. Captured here with our own Candy Crowley. It even has its own Twitter account.
Newspaper headlines couldn't resist. Crist even wrote about his biggest fan, the fan, in his memoir, seen briefly here at the DNC convention.
MALVEAUX: There was so much social media buzz during the debate about this fan moment that the moderator actually addressed it, asking Crist why he insisted on bringing this fan in the first place. Crist said, "Why not? Is there anything wrong with being comfortable" -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Suzanne Malveaux, thank you very much.
The Florida governor, Rick Scott, is here in THE SITUATION ROOM right now. He's joining us.
Governor, thanks very much for joining us. All of this over a fan. I guess the key question is, what were you thinking?
GOV. RICK SCOTT (R), FLORIDA: Hard to believe, isn't it? I was anxious to get out there. I want to talk -- you know, we did the debate last week and he didn't like talking about 832,000 jobs lost. So I think he was just worried he was going to sweat. I'm surprised he just didn't bring some dry ice with him or something to keep himself cool.
He worried so much when I kept bringing up that he lost 832,000 jobs. But I came out, and we did the debate. You know, he didn't want to talk about jobs. We talked about jobs and education.
BLITZER: Let me interrupt. Quick question on the fan. What's the big deal? Why wouldn't you let -- let him use a fan. What's the big deal? Let him have a fan. Why was this even an issue going into the debate between your staff and this thing?
SCOTT: I have no idea. I was sitting in the back. I was told he wasn't going to show up, and so I was sitting back there waiting for them to tell us to come out. And they didn't tell us to come out. And then he went out there. So we came out...
BLITZER: He does have a long history of requesting that a fan be there for whatever reason. And in that document that the Florida gubernatorial debate put out, it explains all the rules. He wrote -- somebody wrote that there can be no fan with the understanding that the debate hosts will address any temperature issues with a fan, if necessary. So that was clearly written into this document, which I'm sure you've seen.
SCOTT: I haven't seen the document. And I was -- I was out there to talk about jobs. We've added 643,000 jobs. I was waiting to go on. I was anxious to go on.
BLITZER: Who told you not to go out there?
SCOTT: The organizers. They said that he wasn't going to show up. He was balking without his fan. So I didn't know he was going to have a fan.
BLITZER: So you have a fan. So eventually, you went out and the fan was operating, I guess, throughout the debate, right?
SCOTT: Yes, I didn't see it.
BLITZER: So it was not a factor after that. Are you surprised by all this commotion over a fan? What's been -- what's been...
SCOTT: It was too bad. This debate ought to be about jobs. It ought to be about education. That's what Floridians care about. The -- what's the future going to be like?
So it's too bad they're talking about fans. But look, I'm out on the campaign trail every day talking about how we've added 643,000 jobs. We have 260,000 job openings. We have record funding for K-12 education. State colleges, universities. That's what I talk about every day.
So, you know, remember last time I did the CNN debate. My opponent cheated during the debate. So hopefully nothing will happen next Tuesday when we do the CNN debate.
BLITZER: There's going to be another debate. I take it there won't be a fan for him at that debate. Is that your understanding?
SCOTT: You know, I don't care if he brings a microwave, if he brings a humidifier. Whatever he wants to bring, if it makes him feel better, he ought to bring his microwave, humidifier, toaster, whatever he wants.
BLITZER: CNN rules are no fan. So he won't show up without the fan, but I've been told definitively by CNN, no fan at that debate next Tuesday night, 7 p.m. Eastern.
SCOTT: We'll see what happens. I hope we talk about jobs and education.
BLITZER: So if you had a -- If you had a do-over, what would you have done differently? Because the criticism of you is you refused to debate the guy, because he had a fan.
SCOTT: I never did. I was waiting. I was told he wasn't going to come out. He wasn't going to do the debate. BLITZER: He was out there on the stage. You knew he was on the stage.
SCOTT: No. Because they had me -- I was in a trailer just waiting to go out.
BLITZER: Who said to you wait?
SCOTT: The whole team, they said just wait until we're ready to take you out.
BLITZER: And the staff said the organizers didn't want you to go out there? The moderators, they were all stunned.
SCOTT: Because what the others I've done, is you walk out at the same time. That's what I think they were trying to organize.
BLITZER: Are you alleging that Crist broke the rules?
SCOTT: I just want to do a debate. I want to talk about jobs and education. You know, I don't know why he did what he did. But I'm -- you know, I think it's crazy that that's what they're talking about. We ought to talk about jobs and education. I don't care if...
BLITZER: You don't want to make that accusation he actually broke the rules a little bit?
SCOTT: He clearly broke the rules, but that's not the point. The point is we should talk about jobs and education where people care about your mistakes. That's why -- that's why I got elected the first time.
BLITZER: He says he didn't break the rules, because he saw this little addendum that was hand written on this agreement.
SCOTT: I don't know.
BLITZER: Let's talk about Ebola very quickly. We're standing by. We expect to see this nurse being moved from the Dallas hospital, Nina Pham. She was obviously getting treatment there, but obviously not as adequately as she could get treatment at the NIH in Bethesda, Maryland. You see her supporters out there. They're getting ready to say goodbye to her as she's moved from the hospital in Dallas, to be airlifted to Maryland, Bethesda, Maryland outside of Washington, D.C.
You're the governor of Florida. Are the hospitals in Florida ready to deal with Ebola? If someone walks into an emergency room in Miami, Orlando, or Jacksonville, any place else, do you have confidence that the physicians, the nurses, the administrators, they will do the right thing?
SCOTT: But here's what we have done. We have 19.5 million people. We have about 100 million tourists this year, and we have all of our healthcare workers. I want all of them to be safe. So we asked the CDC for more testing kits. We've gotten 3 out of the 30 we asked for. We asked for more
protective gear for healthcare professionals. We haven't gotten that yet, so we purchased them on our own. We've asked the federal government to allow us to use some of the federal money that we have in our budget for emergency preparedness to spend on protective gear. They haven't said yes yet.
We've also asked them to do a call tomorrow to tell us what did they learn in Dallas? What was wrong in their protocol so our hospitals will know it. I've asked all of our hospitals to go through emergency preparedness for Ebola and tell us if they have the right gear. We're buying gear ourselves. We're going to be sending it out there to get ready, if we have one. But hopefully we'll never need it.
BLITZER: So Governor, there you see the nurse, Nina Pham -- ought to be leaving this hospital. We don't see her yet, but we're told she is about to be escorted out. I'm curious to see if she's able to walk, if she'll be on a gurney, in a wheelchair. We'll see her condition.
We have been told, Governor, as you well know the last couple of days she was doing apparently slightly better. She was in relatively improved condition. We're anxious to see if we can see how she is.
These are her friends, her supporters at this hospital.
You're the governor of a state. You have got a lot of doctors and nurses in your state, you've got a lot of people who are deeply worried that they could be in danger right now.
Isn't that right?
SCOTT: That's right. That's why we bought this protective gear. We're making sure our hospitals tell us what they've done in training. I want the CDC to tell us what went wrong in Dallas, because I don't want it to happen in our state. I want to make sure hopefully we won't have an Ebola patient, but I want our health care workers to be safe.
You feel sorry for her and her family to go through this. And you just want them to be safe. I want all of our health care workers to be safe.
BLITZER: So you're saying the federal government whether through the CDC, NIH, the Department of Health and Human Services or whatever other federal agency is not giving you, the governor of Florida, the people of Florida, what you need in a crisis like this?
SCOTT: Well, what we've asked for, we've asked for more testing kits, more protective gear. We want to have -- hear what went wrong in Dallas. That's what we've asked for. I've also asked the Feds to go -- you know, they had -- that one nurse was on the flight that went into Ft. Lauderdale.
I want them to talk to all those passengers and make sure they know what they ought to be doing in case they come -- you know, if some health issue, when they should go to the hospital, where they should go, what concerns they should have.
I want our state to be safe. I want to be prepared, just like a hurricane, we want to be prepared.
BLITZER: Because that flight, that Frontier Airlines flight that went from Cleveland to Dallas, when it then continued on to Ft. Lauderdale? Is that right?
SCOTT: Yes. It went on to Ft. Lauderdale. So I just want to make sure that any passengers that were on that plane, they know -- they've been contacted by the CDC and told what precautions they should take, what should they do if they -- you know, if something starts happening to them. I want people to be safe in our state.
BLITZER: You're all over this issue right now in Florida. It's a big issue.
There's been some criticism of the Texas governor, Rick Perry. He is in Europe right now.
Is that fair criticism that he's not in the state during an emergency situation like this?
SCOTT: Well, I know what we're doing. And I know Governor Perry. And I know -- I'm sure he's concerned. I called him last week to ask him what they had learned to -- so I could learn from what's happening there. But look, what I'm asking for is make sure the CDC gives us testing kits, gives us the protective gear, talks to our hospitals, what did they learn in Dallas?
I want to learn from this so we don't have the same problem they had in Dallas.
BLITZER: He cut short, by the way, his trip to Europe. He's now back in Texas but the suggestion among his critics, in fact, he should have never gone to Europe during a situation like this.
You're a politician. You understand the criticism?
SCOTT: Well, you get a lot of criticism as an elected official.
BLITZER: Was that a bad decision on his part to leave Texas during a situation like this?
SCOTT: I can't judge Rick, but I can tell you in our state, I'm going to do everything I can. We're going to get our 19.5 million people prepared, our 100 million tourists prepared and most importantly, I want to get those health care workers to feel comfortable to go to work if they have an Ebola patient.
BLITZER: You're confident that you can handle it in Florida?
SCOTT: We're doing it. We're doing it now. The CDC needs to step up, give us the protective gear, give us the testing kits, tell us what went wrong in Dallas and talk to those people that flew on that plane that came into Ft. Lauderdale. BLITZER: All right. Governor Scott, we'll see you at the debate Tuesday night --
SCOTT: That'll be fun.
BLITZER: -- in Florida. You'll be debating Charlie Crist, the challenger. It's debate night in America. It's Tuesday night, 7:00 pm Eastern. Our own Jake Tapper will be moderating that debate.
SCOTT: That will be fun.
BLITZER: Governor, thanks --
SCOTT: We'll talk about jobs and education probably.
BLITZER: Maybe you'll talk about a fan, too. Who knows?
Governor, thanks very much for joining us.
Let's bring in our own Dr. Sanjay Gupta once again and Dr. Xand Van Tulleken, our CNN medical analyst.
Sanjay, you see the support that these health care professionals there in Dallas hospital are showing this nurse Nina Pham. We have been told, and you can update us, her most recent condition was described as improving, right?
GUPTA: That's correct. We know that she has been ill, but she had been improving and that was obviously a good sign. In fact, because of that, we thought she might be staying there in Dallas, but now obviously moving to the NIH.
In part, I will tell you I talked to some hospital sources down there today, Wolf. And, you know, the way they sort of described it, is they sort of need to hit the reset button. They said, you know, we have many patients, many workers who are being monitored right now, unable to come to work. There are some people who have not -- they have been on diversion, not taking new patients into the hospital. They just want to take a breath.
And, keep in mind, up to this upcoming Monday, you still got an incubation period going on in some of the original Duncan contacts, as well. They want to make sure none of those people develop illness and come into the hospital.
BLITZER: You see the ambulance, Sanjay and Xand. It's just arrived. There's going to be a police escort taking Nina Pham from the hospital over to the Dallas Love Field where she will board a private small jet to take her to Maryland.
They're applauding -- let's just listen in for a second as they're showing their support for Nina Pham.
BLITZER: Told drivers, honk your horn as you see this ambulance on the road driving over to Love Field in Dallas to make this flight. It will be about two hour, 2 1/2 hour, maybe three hour flight from Dallas to Frederick, Maryland, not far from Bethesda, Maryland.
Xand, let me get your thoughts on what we're seeing right now. A lot of sensitivity right now. They don't want her to be accused of anything wrong, Nina Pham or Amber Vinson, the other nurse who was flown yesterday, Emory University Hospital. They have a lot of friends and supporters there.
XAND VAN TULLEKEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it's just so nice to see. There isn't very much positive to say about this entire story. But Ebola is an incredibly isolating disease. People are literally not allowed to touch you. And not only is it terrifying to have but you are surrounded by terrified people as well. And you know you are a potential source of potentially fatal infection for them.
So, it's incredibly difficult to endure as a patient for psychological and physical reasons. And of course being physically sick also makes you feel utterly miserable, again psychologically as well as just enduring the discomfort.
So, I think this will be a huge boost to her. And it's nice to see. And I think the point you raise is absolutely essential. These people are heroes and any criticism of these nurses, I would just respond by saying the way that they were advised was extremely poor. They've done an excellent job under really difficult circumstances.
Health care workers in the U.S. and in the West in general are used to working in systems. They protect them. They're part of a team.
And the system, over all, particularly the CDC, has really let them down. So, I just -- I think it's so important to say, any accusations of irresponsibility on Amber Vinson's part I think should be really put to rest. She sought advice. She was looking after herself. We know that health care workers can be in denial about sicknesses that they have as much as anybody else, and I think at worst she can be accused of that.
But I think really both these people have done such a good job looking after Thomas Duncan and they deserved all the support that we're seeing --
BLITZER: We are showing the live picture of the ambulance in this motorcade going from the hospital over to Love Field in Dallas where Nina Pham will be boarding this flight to bring her to the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C.
Xand, what kind of treatment, what kind of better treatment presumably will they be able to do for her at NIH as opposed to the hospital in Dallas?
VAN TULLEKEN: Well, it's very interesting question now. I mean, we know that actually, this is a very good hospital in Dallas. And the -- there aren't any Ebola-specific treatments. And, indeed, a number of physicians in the world who have extensive experience treating Ebola is very small, and most of them are working in West Africa for Doctors Without Borders at the moment.
So, she probably won't be getting a minute-to-minute better care in terms of better drugs or anything like this. There are no specific treatments and I think Dallas hospital could have provided supportive care very well.
The difference will be that she'll be looked after by a team of people who have excellent protocols in place, with that much more confidence in dealing with her. And so, things like blood and monitoring can be done that much more precisely. I think she'll get those more regularly and also the equipment being used will be done with more confidence by the staff. So, you have decision-making is much easier in an environment where the healthcare team feels safe.
But I think the actual business of managing an Ebola patient is what you call supportive care. So, supporting the organs that are failing, whether they got respiratory failure, and they many need ventilation. They got kidney failure and needs dialysis. Those kinds of things, and also management of clotting and fluids.
But I think the main reason to move her, the Dallas hospital talked about needing a fresh start. I think the team at the NIH will be fresh, they'll be well-rested, and they have the extra level of expertise in terms of garbing up and garbing down, surprising each other, have protocols in place. So, this seems a more calm and more consistent level of care can be delivered.
BLITZER: You are looking at these live pictures. The ambulance taking 26-year-old Nina Pham from Dallas, eventually winding up at NIH, the National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Maryland, outside of Washington, D.C.
The other nurse was airlifted yesterday, Amber Vinson, 29-year-olds from Dallas to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia.
Let's bring in CNN's anchor Don Lemon.
Don, I understand you have an interview later tonight with Amber Vinson's uncle, right?
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, we do have an interview with her uncle. She is a critical care nurse there at the hospital. And speaking to her uncle, not only I spoke -- I spoke to her uncle by phone today, he's going to do an on-camera interview later on tonight, Wolf. But I've also been talking to sources and people who are closest to her and I think that they would be happy and it is heartwarming to them to see those workers on the front line applauding this nurse now because those are the people who are closest to the situation.
And I think all of them, including Ms. Vinson and her family, have lots of questions about the protocol and the procedures and what was followed. She did everything within her power to report to the agencies. And I'm talking about Amber Vinson, before she made a flight.
So, I think Dr. Tulleken right. We should put to rest whether Amber Vinson is at fault here. She did everything properly. She notified everyone. She didn't think that she was infected. Her temperature did not reach the temperature that the CDC had said was -- you know, where she should not travel.
And because of the protocol that was put into place, those people, the nurses and the health care workers there believed that they were -- that they weren't infected. And so, she wasn't under quarantine, so I'm going to talk to him about that tonight and his conversation with her. He's been speaking with her all day.
BLITZER: All right. Ten p.m. Eastern, "CNN TONIGHT", Don Lemon will be anchor that report.
Sanjay Gupta is still with us.
That's Amber Vinson. She's at Emory University Hospital. But you're looking at live pictures, Sanjay, you see the motorcade taking the ambulance to Love Field. And on the bottom right hand corner of the screen, you see the small private jet from Phoenix Air. This is a highly sophisticated jet that's able to take this Ebola patient Nina Pham, 26-year-old, Sanjay, from Dallas to NIH, outside of Washington, D.C.
I think a lot of people are concerned one of the reasons they wanted to move her and the other nurse from Dallas is they didn't want other health care professionals to be infected and presumably they have much better care for that at NIH or Emory or University of Nebraska in Omaha for that as well, right?
GUPTA: Yes. No, I think this was in part what was driving this decision, that, you know, obviously two health care workers got sick from Mr. Duncan. The question of containment, how well could the hospital there in Dallas contain a patient with Ebola?
But I also think there is another issue. If you can just imagine the scene now in Dallas. You have so many patients who are still being monitored, unable to work. And there is a question to just being able to have staff, Wolf, at this point to take care of patients. This will help alleviate some of that load.
BLITZER: Tell us -- I don't know if you have been inside one of the air ambulances as they are called, Sanjay, but I assume they have all sorts of sophisticated equipment in there to deal with an Ebola patient.
GUPTA: It's quite remarkable. I have seen them before. And I'll tell you, it is interesting. You almost think sort of a bubble within a bubble. A patient goes inside an area that's sort of contained, but then people can be outside of the bubble in another bubble if you will, that protects the flight crew from both, the passenger as well as the health care people on that plane.
BLITZER: All right. Sanjay, stand by. I know you're going to be with us throughout the night.
Xand Van Tulleken, as you watch this very dramatic scene unfold, extraordinary care being provided to these two nurses, one flown, airlifted yesterday to Atlanta, another one about to be airlifted to Bethesda, Maryland, just outside of Washington, D.C., this is really -- everyone is going all-out because at stake is hopefully the lives of these two young women.
VAN TULLEKEN: Yes, it's absolutely right. And this is -- this is kind of visually the first time we're really seeing the scale and the precision of the sort of response we'd expect with a disease of this severity. I mean, this is a disease that for a long time we said is straightforward to contain, but it is straightforward if you take all of the precautions. And the precautions are painstaking and difficult to do.
And so, we're seeing now a care of where she goes, we're seeing a care of how she's transported, we're seeing care over the kind of ambulance and the convoy that's going there. And all of this feels, along with the cheering people, it feels like a set of decisions where the care of this lady for her survival is being taken very seriously but at the same time all of the public health measures around to protect the other people are being taken seriously as well, and I think that's what we've seen really lacking in their care so far. I mean, that's why they are sick in the first place, is that there was not clear leadership in making sure these things didn't happen.
BLITZER: And you, like many other experts, would not be surprised, we hope it doesn't happen, if a third health care professional contracted Ebola comes out in the next few hours or days. That would be very worrisome.
VAN TULLEKEN: I mean, that would be extremely concerning. And I think we've got -- the average incubation period is 6.3 days. And so that's the time when, you know, we are within that at the moment. And it's possible -- I think it is very unlikely that either Nina Pham or Amber Vinson has infected someone else, but from the initial source, Thomas Eric Duncan, it's possible.
BLITZER: All right. Xand Van Tulleken will be with us.
That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" continues our special coverage.