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Ebola Crisis: Dallas reports third infected, Africa hit worse than ever

MIKE McGEE | 10/20/2014, 10:34 p.m. | Updated on 10/22/2014, 7:50 p.m.
“[It is] easier to get the flu than it is to get Ebola. This is not Africa. We are a ...
Nowa Paye, 9, is taken to an ambulance after showing signs of Ebola infection in the village of Freeman Reserve, about 30 miles north of Monrovia, Liberia, Sept. 30. Jerome Delay

The Dallas Examiner

“[It is] easier to get the flu than it is to get Ebola. This is not Africa. We are a First World country.” Zachary Thompson, the director of Dallas County Health and Human Services, declared outside of the Dallas County Commissioners Court. “In fact, the Dallas County Health and Human Services has planned for emergencies such as these for years,” Thompson continued in court. “And so we have a very competent public health system within Dallas and throughout the nation, nothing compared to what we see in the African countries at this point.”

The Ebola virus was a hot topic for many at the court on the morning of Sept. 30. Thompson was called upon to inform the commissioners about the Ebola threat and what the county had in place to deal with the disease that has killed thousands in African countries. He addressed concerns that a man from Liberia had brought the disease to Dallas. Thompson said at the time that preliminary investigations were ongoing in the matter.

By that afternoon, test results from both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Texas Department of State Health Services confirmed that the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, was suffering from Ebola, according to a city of Dallas representative. The man had entered Dallas via a flight from West Africa, Thompson claimed. Before the flight, Duncan had no symptoms of the disease and is considered not to have been contagious at that time.

A plea for commissioners to do more to contain Ebola came from Rev. Peter Johnson during the public commentary period of the court. Johnson spoke about Foday Fofanah, a Seirrra Leone national who aids the attempt to stop the spread of disease in Western Africa. Johnson mentioned that about a year ago Fofanah returned to Sierra Leone for his mother’s funeral and came back to the U.S. with photos he took in Freetown, the nation’s capital.

“It brought tears to my eyes,” Johnson affirmed in regard to the country’s living conditions. He stated that this episode led to a meeting nine months ago with Dr. Walter Young, past honorary consul general of Liberia.

It was the intention of the two men to develop a plan to deal with a possible epidemic that Johnson felt was inevitably going to come from Western Africa.

“We saw this a year ago, coming,” Johnson said about the airline passenger who brought the Ebola virus to the U.S. “Since this has become a reality, last week we met with David [Krause] over at the Parkland Foundation. And the Parkland Foundation said ‘We would love to help.’”

He noted that the organization could not assist without the permission from the court.

Johnson presented the commissioners with a list of things he claimed Parkland was willing to ship directly to West Africa in order to fight Ebola. He did not make the list available to the media at that time.

“This is just simple stuff. This is the kind of stuff that can help us confront this disease,” Johnson said in his appeal to the commissioners. “All African American’s ancestors go back to West Africa. These are our people.”