“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.