Skip to main content

Ebola update: Trying to calm fears of disease in Minnesota


Public health officials in Minnesota are continuing their efforts to spread the word about their preparations for the Ebola virus and allay concerns that the deadly infection could become widespread in the state.

Officials from the state health department and several Twin Cities area hospitals hosted a public information meeting Saturday night in Brooklyn Park, which is home to a large number of immigrants from West Africa where Ebola is spreading rapidly.

Speakers reminded the attendees that Ebola cannot be spread through the air; it only passes to someone who has direct contact with an infected person's bodily fluids, according to MPR News.

Even if someone in Minnesota would become infected, officials say they're confident they could manage the situation.

Despite those assurances, some attendees are still quite concerned, WCCO reports.

Jeremiah Sarnor of Brooklyn Center said seven family members of his, including his 18-year-old son, have died of Ebola in West Africa.

“This Ebola stuff is a major disaster in Africa, and I’m a victim of it,” he said, according to WCCO, adding that he's concerned the virus will make its way to Minnesota because of the state's large West African population.

That's one reason why leaders in the West African community are discouraging people from traveling to or from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone – the countries stricken by Ebola – for the time being.

"We can all do our part to ensure that our relatives, if they have to come, they abide by the 21-day active monitoring," said Clarence Yaskey with the Minnesota Africans against Ebola Task Force, according to MPR News. "And if they do not have to come, they can postpone the visit."

The Department of Health will begin monitoring travelers coming to Minnesota from Ebola-affected countries. The department last week named four hospitals in the state as Ebola treatment centers should any cases arise here.

Gov. Mark Dayton was scheduled to meet Sunday with the state health commissioner to review Minnesota's Ebola preparedness.

Metro area restaurant's business hurt by Ebola fears

Concerns over the Ebola virus are hurting a restaurant in Brooklyn Park, so much so that the owner is changing the sign on her establishment to remove the word "African."

The owner of Mama Ti's African Kitchen, Kellita Whisnant, says business has dropped off by 50 percent since the summer because customers worry they could contract the Ebola virus from eating her food, FOX 9 reports. So she is covering up the word "African" on the sign.

“This African name that brought people in before, is now hurting me," Whisnant told the station, adding that some people are too afraid even to shake her hand.

Doug Schultz with the Minnesota Department of Health says it's not possible for Ebola to spread through food.

"If the restaurant is serving food that has been secured in the United States, there's absolutely no possibility that that food could transmit Ebola. Not possible," he told KSTP.

Whisnant said she wants her customers to know that she buys her beef from Minnesota farmers. Despite the Ebola education forums, and health department information she is posting in her restaurant, many customers are staying away.

The restaurant is now considering the possibility of changing the entire menu from Liberian cuisine to American deli food just to survive, according to FOX 9.

Next Up

Justin Jefferson

Vikings-49ers: 5 things you can count on

Sunday's matchup is a pivotal game in the NFC playoff picture.

Gopher Football

Watch: Gophers troll Badgers with 'Jump Around' after Saturday's win

First they took Paul Bunyan's Axe. Then they took their tradition.

Brandon Richart, missing person

Search underway for missing man in Anoka area

Brandon Richart was last seen Nov. 17.

U.S. Bank Stadium

5 teams win first state championships at Prep Bowl

A pair of records fell as the Prep Bowl lived up to the hype.

ashley Carlson

Remains of missing WI mom found in Pine County, MN

Ashley Miller-Carlson was 33 years old.

D'Angelo Russell

D'Lo's late takeover helps Timberwolves win double-OT thriller

Russell caught fire to help the Timberwolves get back to .500.

Gopher Football

Gophers suffocate Badgers, reclaim Paul Bunyan's Axe

Minnesota picked up its first home win over the Badgers since 2003.

Meeker County Sheriff's Office

Boy, 6, run over after falling off trailer in Meeker Co. tree farm accident

He was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center with internal injuries.

Target store

Target unveils deals for 2-day 'Cyber Monday' event

The promotion kicks off Sunday, November 28.

Screen Shot 2021-11-27 at 9.59.30 AM

Edina police warn of recent burglary trend targeting garages and vehicles

The Edina Police Department is increasing patrols in affected neighborhoods in response to the trend.