Ebola: Playing the race card
by Carol Thompson
A letter in the Dallas News reportedly written by the nephew of Thomas Eric Duncan suggesting race played a role in Duncan’s death has sparked outrage from Americans who are already on edge as a second health care worker has been diagnosed with the Ebola virus.
Josephus Weeks wrote, “On Friday, Sept. 25, 2014, my uncle Thomas Eric Duncan went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas. He had a high fever and stomach pains. He told the nurse he had recently been in Liberia. But he was a man of color with no health insurance and no means to pay for treatment, so within hours he was released with some antibiotics and Tylenol.”
Weeks also denied allegations from those in Liberia that Duncan assisted a pregnant woman who was bleeding from the mouth and suffering from other symptoms of the lethal disease.
“And while the stories of my uncle helping a pregnant woman with Ebola are courageous, Thomas Eric personally told me that never happened. Like hundreds of thousands of West Africans, carefully avoiding Ebola was part of my uncle’s daily life.”
Weeks further suggested that his uncle would have lived had he been given the immediate proper care. Duncan died Oct. 8.
Duncan arrived in the United States and soon became the first case of Ebola on American soil. His home country, Liberia, threatened to have Duncan arrested when he returned to that country claiming he had lied on his airport screening form.
Since Duncan’s death, two health care workers at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital have been diagnosed with Ebola. One reportedly frequently cared for Duncan.
Weeks is also critical of the hospital for not providing him with experimental drugs but the hospital did do so on Oct. 4.
The family contacted activist Jesse Jackson, who is among the first to suggest that Duncan did not receive the same care as a Caucasian would have.
The race card is not playing out well with the public. Over 300 comments are posted on the Dallas News website with few expressing sympathy for Duncan or his family, and many taking offense, particularly healthcare workers, taking offense to Duncan’s care being made out to be a matter of race.
Many are commenting that they don’t believe Duncan didn’t assist the pregnant woman. “Why would they lie?” one person asked in regard to Duncan’s neighbors in Liberia. Others believe Duncan knew he may have the disease and came to the U.S. knowing he could get better healthcare. As several readers of the Dallas News pointed out, his care in Dallas far exceeded the level of care he would have received in his home country.
Weeks said that he wrote the letter on behalf of his family. Many have speculated that the family intends to sue over Duncan’s death. The letter in its entirety can be read here.
It’s been reported that Duncan came to the states to marry his fiancé and had not intended to return to Liberia, however, an anonymous United Airlines employee alleged that Duncan had purchased a return ticket to Liberia for Oct. 19.
Across the Internet both the public and politicians alike are expressing anger that President Barack Obama has not placed a ban on travel out of West Africa as tensions among Americans mount.
Image: Flickr/Misguided Children