Nurses warn U.S. not ready for Ebola outbreak

LAS VEGAS -- Dire warnings came in Wednesday about the deadly Ebola virus.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, the worst-case scenario would be up to 1.4 million cases in Africa within the next four months.

Meantime, nursing unions used Las Vegas to get their message out to the country that American hospitals would not be ready for an Ebola outbreak.

With high drama and theatrics on the Strip, they staged what they called a ‘die in' part of their medical march with a message. They started at the Planet Nurse convention at Planet Hollywood, demanding U.S. hospitals be prepared for the Ebola virus.

"Which we know is not just a matter of ‘if', it is ‘when,'" Bonnie Castillo with the Registered Nurse Response Network said.

Within minutes, more than 1,000 unionized nurses, some wearing mock hazardous material suits, made their way outside to pound the pavement; saying hospitals aren't ready for Ebola.

"I think it's very, very scary. I think we need to be more aware, educated," ICU nurse Valerie Loza said.

Loza is a local ICU nurse. She worries Las Vegas is vulnerable to the virus.

"We're a transient city. Many people come from different states, many countries. It's absolutely horrifying what can happen," Loza said.

The demonstration was designed to show danger and death from the Ebola threat. It was loud, except for a moment of silence for health workers who died after contracting Ebola.

"I'm not worried about this epidemic making it to the United States. Could it? Absolutely. Do I think it will? Probably not," Chief Health Officer with the Southern Nevada Health District Dr. Joe Iser said.

Dr. Iser had meetings with hospitals and emergency medical services providers on Ebola preparedness this month.

"They are feeling fairly comfortable they can manage a case of Ebola," Dr. Iser said.

But for the nurses unions, they're convinced pure pandemonium could come in real life, if the U.S. saw an Ebola emergency.

Dr. Iser with the health district says he is more concerned about threats posed by tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases in Las Vegas over Ebola.


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