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News Wrap: WHO reports Ebola deaths may be slowing

In our news wrap Wednesday, the World Health Organization reported that Ebola fatalities remain at just under 5,000, though the total number of cases now top 13,700. Also, an American nurse who returned recently from Sierra Leone vowed to challenge Maine’s quarantine policy, which requires her to stay at home despite testing negative for the disease.

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    The Ebola death rate in West Africa may be slowing. The World Health Organization reported today that total cases now top 13,700, but fatalities remain at just under 5,000. That's partly due to the death toll in Liberia being revised downward.

    Meanwhile, President Obama renewed his warning that quarantine policies that might discourage doctors and nurses from volunteering in West Africa.


    We can't hermetically seal ourselves off. The nature of international travel and movement means that the only way to assure that we are safe is to make sure that we have dealt with the disease where right now it's most acute.


    Before the president spoke, the Pentagon announced that all U.S. troops who serve in West Africa will be placed in 21-day quarantine. And health officials in California ordered the same restriction for anyone who has traveled to West Africa if they have had contact with Ebola patients.


    A legal battle is shaping up between the state of Maine and a nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. State officials said today they will get a court order to enforce a home quarantine of Kaci Hickox, who has tested negative. She had already spent three days under medical isolation in New Jersey.

    Today, in a Skype interview, Hickox told ABC she will challenge Maine's policy.

  • KACI HICKOX, Quarantined Nurse:

    I remain really concerned by these mandatory quarantine policies from aid workers. I think we're just only adding to stigmatization that again is not based on science or evidence. And if these restrictions are not removed for me from the state of Maine by tomorrow morning, Thursday morning, I will go to court to attain my freedom.


    Officials in Maine want Hickox to remain home for 21 days since her last contact with an Ebola patient.


    The Federal Reserve has officially ended its long-running economic stimulus effort. Citing an improved economy, policy-makers at the Central Bank announced today they have completed phasing out their bond-buying program. But they also said, again, they mean to maintain short-term rates near zero for — quote — "a considerable time."


    Reinforcements from two sources headed to the Syrian town of Kobani today to battle Islamic State forces. Activists said 50 rebels from the Free Syrian Army faction entered Kobani from neighboring Turkey. Separately, about 150 Iraqi Peshmerga troops traveled by convoy through Turkey. They have the blessing of the Turkish government, and Turkish residents cheered their passage.


    A monsoon mudslide hit Sri Lanka today. The disaster management minister reported more than 100 dead, with upwards of 300 others missing. The mudslide was triggered by heavy rain that inundated the island nation's central hills. It hit this morning and wiped out a number of workers' homes at a tea plantation.


    Back in this country, White House officials said they're acting to address a breach of its unclassified computer network. The Washington Post reported today that investigators believe hackers working for the Russians were behind the attack in recent weeks.

    At the White House, Press Secretary Josh Earnest declined to speculate.

  • JOSH EARNEST, White House Press Secretary:

    There are a number of nations and organizations around the globe that are engaged in efforts to collect information about U.S. government activity. And it's not a surprise. We're certainly aware of the fact that those individuals or organizations or even countries might view the White House computer network as a valuable source of information.


    The Post report said there's no evidence that any classified networks were hacked.


    The Securities and Exchange Commission is investigating whether Medicare and Medicaid employees leaked information to stock traders. Today's Wall Street Journal says three separate inquiries are looking at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency that oversees the programs. One involves allegations that an outside firm was tipped off in advance about a prostate cancer treatment.


    With the Fed announcing the end of its stimulus program today, Wall Street fell back a little. The Dow Jones industrial average lost 31 points to close at 16974; the Nasdaq dropped 15 points to close at 4549; and the S&P 500 slipped two to finish at 1982.

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