Emory backtracks: DeKalb never threatened sewer cutoff over Ebola virus

Updated at 2:30 p.m.: Emory University just issued a statement backtracking on a claim made in today's New York Times, that DeKalb County had threatened to cut off sewer lines if it wasn't satisfied over the disposal of waste from two patients being treated for the Ebola virus.

From Vincent Dollard, Emory's associate vice president of health science communications:

"Emory University Hospital has been treating patients with Ebola virus disease in its Serious Communicable Diseases Unit since August 2. During the early stages of this pioneering treatment of patients with Ebola virus disease in the United States, Emory established waste management protocols with local utilities and vendors, along with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Emory and DeKalb County did communicate about waste management. However, Emory was mistaken in saying that DeKalb County threatened to disconnect it from the sewer line.

"Emory used a large autoclave to sterilize medical waste so that it could be removed by its waste management vendor.

"Originally, couriers would not drive blood samples from Emory to CDC, but that was quickly resolved in discussions with CDC.

"And pizza delivery to the hospital was refused by at least one vendor early in the process."

Original post: Nothing stirs fear like a global pandemic. According to the lede story in today’s New York Times, DeKalb County threatened to cut off sewer lines to Emory University back in August, when two patients infected with the Ebola virus arrived:

Proof that we have an electorate paying attention comes from the latest Washington Post/ABC News poll:

Nearly two-thirds of Americans say they are concerned about an Ebola outbreak in the United States, and about the same amount say they want flight restrictions from the countries in West Africa where the disease has quickly spread.

A new poll from the Washington Post and ABC News shows 67 percent of people say they would support restricting entry to the United States from countries struggling with Ebola. Another 91 percent would like to see stricter screening procedures at U.S. airports in response to the disease’s spread.

As we saw with 9/11, fear plus interest translates into a political issue. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is now testing the Internet ad below that blame Republican-inspired budget cuts to the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and other health agencies for a lack of pandemic preparation:

The basis for the ad is a Sunday comment from Francis S. Collins, head of the National Institutes for Health:

“Frankly, if we had not gone through our 10-year slide in research support, we probably would have had a vaccine in time for this that would’ve gone through clinical trials and would have been ready.”

This isn't the first time Democrats have dipped into the Ebola issue. In Arkansas, incumbent U.S. Sen. Mark Pryor, a Democrat, used the same line of attack against his Republican challenger, U.S. Rep. Tom Cotton.


Your campaign tip sheet:

-- Several candidates, including Gov. Nathan Deal, Republican Senate candidate David Perdue, and Democratic candidate for state Agriculture commissioner Chris Irvin, hit the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie today. Deal speaks at 11:30 a.m. The governor will also make a campaign stop in Dublin at 2:30 p.m.


The Michelle Nunn campaign's newest TV ad is -- surprise, surprise -- an outsourcing-related hit that draws on TV coverage of David Perdue's deposition in the Pillowtex case and uses his "proud" quote:

It begins to rotate in today, we're told.


We’re picking up a few more details of Thursday’s visit by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to help fellow Republican incumbent Nathan Deal.

The pair will tour Georgia Tech, then take a walking tour of the Roswell Square. Presumably, they’ll pay homage to the stately home of President Theodore Roosevelt’s unreconstructed mom.

Expect Democrats to greet Christie with more than traffic jokes. Christie heads the Republican Governors Association, and among the Washington-based group's benefactors is Copart, the Texas-based auto firm that last year bought a lucrative salvage business co-owned by Deal.

Records show that Copart gave the RGA a $100,000 contribution in April, a fact that Deal's critics are eager to point out. The firm is still locked in an ongoing dispute with Georgia tax officials over as much as $74 million in back taxes and Deal's critics are eager to question the sale.

Jason Carter's campaign said Deal is in business with a "major tax cheat," while the governor said he wants an independent judge to resolve the dispute.


Todd Rehm of GeorgiaPundit.com says he’s picking up chatter that U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., will be in town next week for David Perdue, the Republican Senate candidate.


The Georgia NAACP has removed Augusta chapter President Charles Smith, according to the Augusta Chronicle:

The Georgia NAACP banned Smith from the chapter Sunday evening after the organization spent months reviewing evidence from a 2001 sexual harassment case against him and after weekend coverage from The Augusta Chronicle detailed the trauma still endured today by Smith’s accusers.

During a news conference Monday, Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson said the allegations against Smith are antithetical to the organization’s mission.


The latest National Republican Congressional Committee slam on Rep. John Barrow, D-Augusta, is of the classic "Mediscare" genre. Seniors looks distressed at Barrow's not voting to repeal Obamacare -- and its cost controls for Medicare:

It also pulls out a Barrow vote for an obscure failed amendment in 2013 that, the ad alleges, signifies Barrow's desire to cut Social Security and raise the retirement age to 69.

The amendment to a budget bill said that the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles commission should be the basis for balancing the federal budget in the long term. The 2010 presidential commission produced an outline, but deadlocked on its recommendations and a full bill never came to fruition.

That outline does raise the retirement age to 69 -- in 2075. Its "cuts" come from using a less generous method of calculating cost of living increases.


The conservative American Future Fund is dropping a whopping $970,000 into ads in the 12th District, according to the Washington Post, to bash Barrow. Here's the ad, asking: "Can you think of one thing he's accomplished?"

Barrow's campaign immediately sent out a fundraising email pointing out that AFF is part of the political network of billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch:

"We just got some devastating news! The Koch Brothers, the out-of-state billionaires who are buying elections across the country, just dropped $1 million to attack John. We have to replenish our Rapid Response Fund right now, and we need your help."

This is AFF's second foray into Georgia this year after backing Karen Handel during the U.S. Senate primary.

Koch Industries' PAC has given Barrow $10,000 in each of the past two election cycles. Dan McLagan, spokesman for Republican challenger Rick Allen sent us this colorful retort:

"John Barrow's hypocrisy makes the rest of the career politicians in Washington look like amateurs. When the Koch Brothers wrote him contribution checks, he smiled and deposited them. Now he attacks them. If Barrow had a dog, the dog couldn't trust him -- the Congressman would pull an Old Yeller on poor Fido if it would get him any votes."


Liberal groups across the nation are keeping an eye on the lawsuit involving the New Georgia Project and allegations against the Georgia Secretary of State’s office of slow-walking the processing of voter applications.

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland, the president of the Center for American Progress Action Fund, told us in a phone interview that his organization is looking to publicize the lawsuit and compare it to other efforts around the country to limit voting. Said Strickland:

“It’s more of an education effort, I think, to analyze what’s happening and demonstrate there’s a pattern of behavior when it comes to these voter suppression efforts. Different states are doing it in different ways, but most of these efforts to suppress the vote are occurring in states where the Republican Party is dominant in terms of the governor’s office and state legislative offices are controlled by Republicans. So if you look at it in that kind of way, it just seems like there is a widespread pattern of these kinds of activities, and so one of the things we’re trying to do with CAP is just to expose that.”

Strickland added that that “it would be a stunning event” if Democrats were to win Georgia’s governor’s mansion or the open U.S. Senate seat.


Up in Kentucky, some lug nuts are coming loose. From the New Republic:

It seems like a safe assumption that if you’re currently a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate, you voted for Barack Obama two years ago. And if you’re a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate who also served as a delegate for Obama at the 2012 Democratic Convention? Well then, yeah, it’s a very good bet you pulled the lever for the president that year.

But Alison Lundergan Grimes, currently the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Kentucky and a delegate for Obama at the Democratic National Convention in 2012, apparently thinks voters are idiots.

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About the Author

Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein
Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.