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The home for VPR's coverage of health and health industry issues affecting the state of Vermont.

Rutland Residents Raise Questions About Quarantined Man

WCAX TV has identified a man now in quarantine for possible exposure to the Ebola virus in West Africa as Peter Italia of Rutland. But questions remain about why he went to such a high-risk area and what his intentions were. Several local residents say they know Italia, and are worried about him.

Lindra Moerdyk was having coffee Wednesday morning with several friends at a Rutland café.  Ever since the morning paper they wondered if the man in quarantine was someone they know from church.

“Almost looking at the headlines I was like, 'this fits,' ” said Moerdyk.

“I’ll bet you this is the person I know of who went to Africa to see if he could do something to help. I’m glad he’s back,” she added.  “I’ve been concerned about his well being and I think he’s just a caring person. I have no idea why he wanted to go. I know he wanted to go to help the people of Africa, and that seems to fit with his personality.”

"I think he's a person with a big heart who wanted to help other people, period. That's all I know. That's what I have seen and heard when I've talked to him." -Lindra Moerdyk, Rutland

Moerdyk and the others at the table were hesitant to identify the man or their church to protect his privacy.  But they described the man as middle-aged, articulate and thoughtful -- as well as homeless.  Rutland Mayor Christopher Louras has described the man as transient in a statement.

The group wondered how a person who is homeless could travel back and forth to Africa.  But Lindra Moerdyk and her fellow parishioners said they believe his intentions were good.

“I think he’s a person with a big heart who wanted to help other people, period. That’s all I know - that’s what I have seen and heard when I’ve talked to him,” she said.

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