Residents in the Dallas neighborhood where Ebola patient Thomas Duncan briefly stayed before being confined to a hospital said on Monday that they had been unfairly refused service by local businesses, and turned away from jobs.
At a press conference on Monday, Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates explained that residents in the area felt shunned even though they had no contact with Duncan, and were considered not to be at risk for contracting the virus.
“Unfortunately, they are feeling discriminated against,” Gates said. “We still have some that have been turned away from jobs. Some that have been turned away at retail locations. We’re getting them in touch with legal aid and any resources necessary.”
“These residents, unless they happen to be one of those that were exposed that are being traced, they are not at risk for getting the disease and are not at risk for transmitting the diseases,” she pointed out.
WFAA reported that the children in the community had also been left without tutors.
“Volunteers that usually show up, aren’t showing up,” NorthPark Presbyterian Church Rev. Brent Barry said of the Heart House Dallas child tutoring program.
Vickery Meadow Learning Center reportedly lost 150 of its volunteers.
And Vickery Meadow Neighborhood Alliance Food Pantry saw a drop in the number of residents coming in for meals.
“About a fourth of the people who usually show up showed up because they’re scared to go out,” Barry observed. “They don’t know what the story is, either. Really, the fear is inside Vickery Meadow, but it’s also out in the community.”
“They’ve gone to work and been told to leave,” he continued. “That’s been corrected now. We know a couple young people who went to a restaurant and had been turned away.”
Rebecca Range, executive director of the Vickery Meadow Improvement District, told a similar story, according to The Dallas Morning News.
“Many residents are telling them that they can’t go to work and are being turned away at restaurants based on their appearance,” Range said. “Help us spread the word that there is no need for this stigma.”
Human Rights Initiative of North Texas executive director Bill Holston noted that Vickery Meadow was a “heavily immigrant neighborhood.”
“I understand people’s nervousness about an infectious disease, but it is wrong to discriminate against an entire class of people,” he insisted.
“Those people had no contact with Patient Zero and they’re not being traced by the county,” Gates said on Monday. “But because of where they live, they were turned down at work.”
The Dallas Independent School District said that it was in the process of developing guidelines to stop the bullying of African students.
Watch the video below from WFAA, broadcast Oct. 7, 2014.
Watch the video below from KTVT, broadcast Oct. 7, 2014.