Ebola Scare Comes to the Pentagon

By Kevin Baron

October 17, 2014

This article has been updated. 

Fearing a possible case of Ebola at the Pentagon, officials shut down a parking lot and building entrance for much of the day after a woman was found "ill and vomiting" Friday in the Pentagon parking lot. The woman later said she had "recently visited Africa," according to one official.

The woman was found about 9:10 a.m. and "out of an abundance of caution" all vehicle and foot traffic was diverted from the South Parking Lot, one of the two largest lots for Pentagon workers. The Arlington County Fire Department was notified and the woman has been taken to Virginia's Inova Fairfax Hospital.

The woman was a passenger on a Defense Department-contracted bus—rather than a Metro commuter, as initial reports indicated—bound for the Marine Barracks in aoutheast Washington, D.C. The bus was stopped before reaching the barracks, Defense Department spokesman Lt. Col. Tom Crosson said. The patient then vomited in the parking lot. Officials were checking if she worked in the Pentagon or had building access. The Pentagon parking lot is a major bus depot for Northern Virginia commuter buses shuttling thousands of workers to and from Washington, D.C., every day via the underground Metro rail.

"Representatives from the D.C. Department of Health responded to the bus and conducted screening protocols with the passengers," Crosson said. "The bus and its passengers were cleared by the District of Columbia Department of Health."

By the afternoon, the patient's boss, Steve Morgan, said that "there is no story" behind the day's Ebola scare at the Pentagon. 

"It was a story about a middle aged lady who has some quite unrelated medical concerns. She's probably guilty of having the stomach flu," Morgan told Defense One. "And may even have been guilty about being black when the problem is in West Africa. There is no story. There really is no story. That's it."

Additional reporting by Ben Watson.

By Kevin Baron // Kevin Baron is the founding executive editor of Defense One. Baron has lived in Washington for 20 years, covering international affairs, the military, the Pentagon, Congress, and politics for Foreign Policy, National Journal, Stars and Stripes, and the Boston Globe, where he ran investigative projects for five years at the Washington bureau. He is a frequent on-air contributor and previously was national security/military analyst at NBC News & MSNBC. Baron cut his muckraking teeth at the Center for Public Integrity and he is twice a Polk Award winner and former vice president of the Pentagon Press Association. He earned his M.A. in media and public affairs from George Washington University, his B.A. in international studies from the University of Richmond, and studied in Paris. Raised in Florida, Baron now lives in Northern Virginia.

October 17, 2014