Mass hysteria from media at Ebola press conference

Ebola

Dallas Councilwoman Jennifer Gates, left, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, center, and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins were on hand Thursday to answer questions from the press regarding Ebola in Dallas.

“Reporters can be part of the problem or part of the solution,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said during a press conference on the Ebola virus today (Thursday, Oct. 2) at Dallas County Commissioners Court.

Judging by the questions, the members of the press gathered for the press conference are determined to be part of the problem when it comes to spreading panic and misinformation.

First, the foremost expert on Ebola in this country who has experience treating the disease in Africa is in Dallas working at Presbyterian Hospital.

Second, 10 people from the Centers for Disease Control are in Dallas. Half are working in the community and half in the hospital doing “tracing.” Their job is to trace contact between Mr. Duncan, the Ebola patient at the hospital, and people he was in contact with.

During the press conference, Rawlings indicated that members of the media are paying residents of Duncan’s apartment complex to live in their apartments so they can be first there if someone else in the household gets sick.

Idiotic questions from the media included asking Dallas Health and Human Services Director Zach Thompson what protective gear he was wearing when he visited with Duncan’s family. Thompson tried to explain that no one in the family is showing any symptoms and therefore no one in the family is contagious, even if they have been exposed to Ebola and come down with the illness later.

Ebola has a two-to-21 day incubation period. When the patient is not showing symptoms, the virus can’t be transmitted.

County Judge Clay Jenkins explained Duncan’s apartment has been cleaned by a company that sanitizes hospitals and has experience working with blood infected with HIV. That seemed to go over the heads of most of the reporters at the press conference as well.

Another reporter wanted to know what hospital would take the next Ebola patient. Jenkins said all hospitals in Dallas have been working to prepare to take another Ebola patient but that didn’t satisfy Dallas media. Why wait til the last minute? Why don’t you know?

Jenkins tried to explain that in all probability, the patient would be taken to Presby, but if a patient walked into Parkland or another hospital those hospitals are prepared, too.

The patient would probably go to Presbyterian because that’s the hospital closest to Duncan’s family’s apartment. And Ebola isn’t going to suddenly show up in Oak Cliff. The virus doesn’t spread that way. It takes direct contact with bodily fluids from someone showing symptoms.

But no one in Dallas media would listen to that. They shouted down Thompson and Jenkins, with the county judge ending the press conference by explaining he had other meetings to get to. He had a job to do.

“We have a job to do too,” shouted one female reporter — I couldn’t see who she was or what station she was with.

She’d do her job better if she stopped panicking and looked up how Ebola spreads.

Brace yourselves for tonight’s coverage on the news. It’s going to make Dallas look like the entire city is in mass hysteria.

—  David Taffet

It’s beginning to look a lot like Black Friday

Merchants talk about the importance of the day after Thanksgiving to the overall health of their business

Santa

BIG GAY SANTA | Fete-ish owner Chad Vogel placed a big Santa over his doorway in time to welcome Black Friday shoppers to his Bishop Arts District store. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

DAVID TAFFET  |  Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

Although most gay shopkeepers don’t approach Black Friday with the same frenzied mentality as mainstream retailers, the day after Thanksgiving is nonetheless important to their businesses.

To get the edge of those holiday shopping dollars, big box stores have been opening earlier and earlier. Wal-Mart even announced its Friday hours will begin on Thursday this year.

Dallas’ LGBT retailers haven’t turned the day into that kind of maniacal hysteria, but gay merchants on Cedar Springs Road and in the Bishop Arts District want customers to know they depend on good sales this weekend, too.

“Oh my God! It’s very important,” Skivvies owner David Richardson of the day-after-Thanksgiving shopping rush.

He said that he and partner Todd Seaton get to the store three hours early that day to start setting up, and business starts the minute they open the doors. He schedules extra help for the day and stays in the store himself from open until close to help answer questions, work the register and bag items.

“We’ll have discounts on some groups of merchandise throughout the store,” Richardson said, but every category sells well that day.

Black Friday accounts for as much as 20 percent of the Christmas season sales at Skivvies.

“It can be the biggest day of the year,” Richardson said. Only the day before Halloween rivals it.

Nuvo salesperson Daneen Foster agreed. She said she expected her store to be busy from open until close on Black Friday, even without any special promotions.

“We’re just going to be here with our fabulous merchandise, free gift wrapping and a knowledgeable, helpful and friendly staff,” she said.

TapeLenders owner Mark Milburn said, “This is the first time we’ve publicized Black Friday specials.”

In the past, he hasn’t noticed a big spike in business, but he said he thinks his “buy one, get one free” offer on adult videos and an additional 10 percent off on clearance items would especially boost sales.

Things are a little different for OutLines.

“It’s not one of our busier days, like at the malls,” owner David Lester said.

He said that for the past three years, Black Friday has been no better than any other Friday at OutLines. However, to boost sales over the holiday weekend this year, Lester planned to open the store from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day.

During those four hours last year, he said, he did more business than on the traditional shopping day. He said that specials would be offered throughout the store during the weekend.

“But our biggest weekend is Pride,” Lester said. “And First Wednesday is always a good night for us.”

Bishop Arts retailers report less reliance on a Black Friday surge.

Bishop Street Market owner Mike Harrity said it is usually busier than a normal Friday, but he expects to do much more business on Small Business Saturday. That is an American Express promotion started last year that gives $25 off to anyone that uses an Amex card in a small business on the Saturday following Black Friday.

“Down here we have Jingle Bells on Bishop,” Fete-ish owner Chad Vogel said.

That event takes place the following week.

“We’ll have live entertainment,” Vogel said. “Thousands of people roll through that weekend.”
Harrity agreed that Jingle Bells on Bishop was his store’s biggest weekend of the year

But Vogel said that Thanksgiving weekend does give his store a healthy and welcome spike in sales.

Then he reacted to the question of how gay stores do on Black Friday.

“What makes you think our store is gay?” he asked as he was lighting up the big pink Santa whose mouth is the front door of the store, while other employees were spraying tinsel and glitter everywhere.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 25, 2011.

 

—  Kevin Thomas