By RYAN GORMAN
The New York doctor diagnosed last month with Ebola after caring for patients in West Africa has been released from a Manhattan hospital.
Dr. Craig Spencer was sent home Tuesday after being admitted to Bellevue Hospital October 23 after coming down with symptoms of the deadly virus. He had returned from Guinea only one week earlier.
"Doctor Spencer is Ebola-free, and New York City is Ebola-free," New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said at a Tuesday morning press conference shortly after he and wife Chirlane McCray hugged the cured doc.
The mayor and Dr. Laura Evans, who headed up the team that helped Dr. Spencer beat Ebola, repeatedly thanked him for his bravery and sense of humor in dealing with the affliction.
"It's a good feeling to hug a hero," de Blasio said of Spencer after Evans and Ram Raju, head of the Health and Hospitals Corporation (NYC), hugged him. "Dr. Spencer is a very huggable guy."
'Thank you so much for everything," an emotional Spencer said as he embraced Dr. Evans.
"Today I am healthy and no longer infectious," Spencer told the gathered crowd.
Spencer repeatedly thanked Bellevue staff and Doctors Without Borders for their support of and care for him during the past few weeks.
He said the established protocols for healthcare workers (twice daily monitoring of body temperature and self-quarantine if symptoms arise) returning from West Africa are what saved his life.
"I am a living example of how those protocols work," Spencer said.
'Doctor Spencer did everything right," de Blasio said earlier, likely in reference to earlier criticism stemming from Spencer riding the subway, using Uber cars, eating out and going bowling the days after returning from his five weeks in Guinea.
The doc spoke also of the highs and lows of his time in West Africa.
"I cried as I held children who were not strong enough to survive the virus," said Spencer, "but I also experienced immense joy as patients I helped cure invited me into their homes."
Those cured patients called the doctor's private cellphone asking how they could help him overcome the disease, he said.
Spencer and the half-dozen officials gathered to speak at the press briefing all stressed that neither returning volunteers nor people from West Africa should be stigmatized over Ebola fears.
"You never discriminate against someone that's helping others," said the mayor, adding that "no one should be stigmatized based on where they come from. That is an un-American act."
New York's response to Spencer's Ebola diagnosis was calm, measured and effective -- a sharp contrast to the debacle that led two nurses to be infected in Dallas after a single patient was admitted last month to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Health officials also expressed the importance of getting a flu shot, not to combat Ebola, but to keep people who may have a fever from seeing a doctor so major health emergencies can more easily be attended to.
"Get a flu shot," the mayor urged New Yorkers. "It's the simplest thing in the world."
The mayor, his officials and Spencer also stressed that the focus should not be on his case, but on the 13,000 people currently diagnosed with the disease.
"I urge you, please, to focus your attention where it is most needed, at the center of the outbreak, in West Africa," said Spencer.
And should anyone who has the disease end up in New York?
'We got your back," said Raju.