Craig Spencer was diagnosed with Ebola on Thursday and is currently quarantined at the Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. His is the first case diagnosed in New York and the fourth in the United States.
Dr. Spencer, who worked with Doctors Without Borders, recently traveled to Guinea to offer his medical services to those affected by the outbreak, returning late last week.
During his time in public, Dr. Spencer traveled on the A, L and 1 trains. He also took an Uber taxi, sparking concern about the safety of the Uber driver and the cleanliness of the vehicle.
Uber spokesperson Natalia Montalvo told The Observer that the company, upon learning that Dr. Spencer had ridden an Uber car, immediately contacted the Center for Disease Control (NYC DOHMH) and the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, “which stated that neither our driver partner nor any of his subsequent passengers are at risk.”
“We have communicated this to the driver,” Ms. Montalvo said, “and the NYC DOHMH medical team met with the driver in person, assuring him that he is not at risk. Our thoughts are with the patient and his loved ones.”
Ms. Montalvo did not confirm if this particular vehicle was back in service at this time. The Uber driver was one of four points of direct contact Dr. Spencer had, the others being his girlfriend and two friends. All are healthy at this time.
Another Uber driver told The Observer she has not yet received formal comment from the company regarding any procedural changes for drivers related to the Ebola case. She said she felt entirely safe driving her Uber and was confident that she would not be exposed to the virus.
A medical professional familiar with the case said the Uber vehicle was safe, as bodily fluids are not commonly transmitted in taxis.