- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2014

The Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke in Dallas on Tuesday alongside the family of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first man diagnosed with Ebola in the United States.

Mr. Jackson said a prayer vigil will be held at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, where Mr. Duncan is currently in critical condition.

The civil rights leader called on the public to show compassion to Mr. Duncan and his family, not to ostracize them, The Associated Press reported. He said the hospital initially discharged the patient because he was poor and did not have medical insurance. The hospital and health officials have said mistakes were made in handling Mr. Duncan, Reuters reported.

Dallas officials have complained that the Ebola virus has cast a stigma over the Vickery Meadow neighborhood, where Mr. Duncan was staying, and neighbors are saying they feel discriminated against.

Dallas City Council member Jennifer Staubach Gates said she met with over 30 community leaders on Monday to try and assess the needs of the residents.

“Unfortunately, they are feeling discriminated against,” she told a local CBS affiliate. “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.”

Ms. Gates said she believes that educating the public is the only way to reverse the stigma.

“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 told the station.

Forty-eight individuals have been identified as “high-risk” patients. Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said those individuals are being checked on once a day, the station reported.

“We have zero symptoms out there,” he said. “Zero. That is a good sign.”

Ms. Gates added: “It’s about you, the public, spreading the word about how this disease is spread. This community is healthy.”

The Dallas County prosecutor is considering whether to file criminal charges against Mr. Duncan and to determine whether he knowingly traveled while infected from Monrovia, Liberia, to Dallas last week.

Authorities in Liberia said last week that they plan to prosecute Mr. Duncan for allegedly lying on an airport screening questionnaire about not having contact with the deadly virus, even though neighbors said he transported an Ebola patient to a local hospital, The Washington Post reported.

• Jessica Chasmar can be reached at jchasmar@washingtontimes.com.

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