As the second nurse who contracted Ebola remained in isolation late Wednesday in an Atlanta hospital, a picture emerged of a woman overwhelmed with excitement about her upcoming wedding.
Amber Vinson, 29, has been transferred from Dallas to a biohazard infectious disease center at Emory University Hospital. Just days earlier, on Friday, she flew from Dallas-Fort Worth to Cleveland to reportedly meet with relatives in the Akron suburb of Tallmadge to finalize plans for her wedding. She returned home on Monday and was later diagnosed with Ebola on Wednesday, days after caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died of the highly infectious disease.
“This is awful. Just awful,” Vinson’s grandmother, Martha Shuler, told The Dallas Morning News. “All I know is that when she gets well, I want her to get the hell out of Texas. And don’t ever go back.”
Vinson’s fiancé has not yet been identified and it remains unclear whether he lives in Ohio or Texas. Vinson, meanwhile, reportedly lives alone at the Village Apartments complex in Dallas. A review of her Pinterest page reveals a woman seemingly ready to tie the knot: pictures and tips on everything from wedding cakes to dresses to flowers.
Vinson was raised in Akron, Ohio, where she graduated from the city’s Firestone High School in 2003. She then earned a bachelor’s degree in science from Kent State University in 2006 and received a nursing degree with honors in 2008. She became a registered nurse the following year, Ohio records indicate.
Vinson’s mother, Debra Berry, is an assistant to the president of Kent State University, which issued a statement Wednesday clarifying that Vinson herself never set foot on campus.
“It’s important to note that the patient was not on the Kent State campus,” Kent State President Beverly Warren said in a statement. “She stayed with her family at their home in Summit County and did not step foot on our campus. We want to assure our university community that we are taking this information seriously, taking steps to communicate what we know.”
Out of an abundance of caution, Berry and two additional unidentified relatives who work at the university have been asked to remain off campus for the next 21 days.
“We’re coordinating with local public health authorities to ensure all precautions are taken,” Dr. Angela DeJulius, director of University Health Services at Kent State, said in a statement. “Under the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, patients infected with the Ebola virus are not considered contagious until they show symptoms, such as fever, muscle aches and headaches.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Tom Frieden has acknowledged Vinson should never have been allowed to fly on a commercial flight due to her exposure to the virus while treating Duncan. And although she was monitored more closely since 26-year-old Nina Pham — the first nurse stricken with Ebola — was diagnosed, a CDC official cleared Vinson to board a Frontier Airlines flight from Cleveland to Dallas. Her reported temperature at the time, 99.5 degrees, was below the threshold set by the federal agency and she exhibited no symptoms of the disease, CDC spokesman David Dingle said.
Vinson’s father, Ronald Shuler, declined comment when reached by The Dallas Morning News. He told the newspaper that the family may comment later.
Meanwhile, a longtime friend of Vinson’s mother characterized the nurse as the “sweetest girl,” the kind of child every parent dreams of. Vinson frequently flew home to visit her mother, Akron City Councilwoman Tara Mosley-Samples told The New York Times.
“They’re just good people,” Mosley-Samples said. “Her daughter, Amber, is the sweetest little girl in the world.”
Vinson’s most recent trip, however, served a more specific purpose: to make wedding plans with her mother and friends following her recent engagement.
“They were doing their bridal shopping and going to the bridal stores,” Toinette Parrilla, director of the Cleveland Department of Public Health, told the newspaper.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.