A Conflation of Viruses - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A Conflation of Viruses

Is anyone surprised that after Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan succumbed as the first victim of the Ebola virus to die on American soil his demise would become a cause célèbre for the race-hustling Left?

Of course not. The only surprise was that it was Jesse Jackson, whose exploits in racial demagoguery have of late been plagued by a relative lugubriousness in comparison to more ebullient contenders like Al Sharpton and Louis Farrakhan, who commandeered the train by insinuating himself among Duncan’s family members to accuse Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of bigotry for the sin of not saving its most high-profile patient.

Jackson’s usual fare is to extort corporations by threatening bad publicity as racists for whatever statistical sins they may have committed in business, and then parlaying those threats into a windfall of honoraria and sponsorships for his Rainbow/PUSH Coalition — not exactly cutting-edge revolutionary activity, to be sure. But even a has-been demagogue who found himself beset with boo-birds in Ferguson after using Michael Brown’s death as a pretext for passing a collection plate amongst the bereaved and aggrieved can spot a good non-sequitur useful for media attention, and so it was Jackson who hustled his way down to Dallas to ride atop Duncan’s family as its “spokesman.”

And he started off the count with a bit of chin music to the white people in charge of the hospital.

“What role did [Duncan’s] lack of privilege play in the treatment he received? He is being treated as a criminal rather than as a patient,” wrote Jackson at the Huffington Post last Tuesday. “As followers of Jesus, we are called to work for the day when those with privilege, most often white people, have greater access to better medical care than those whom Jesus calls ‘the least of our sisters and brothers.’”

But shortly thereafter Duncan expired, and by the weekend Jackson was hosting his mother and nephew in Chicago as they screeched about the three white Ebola patients — NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo and Samaritan’s Purse health-care professionals Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly — who contracted the disease while working in West Africa and nonetheless survived.

Mukpo, Brantly, and Writebol “came back to Atlanta and Nebraska, got quick treatment and early treatment, and their lives have been spared,” Jackson howled. “That did not happen with Eric Duncan. And the critical hours, critical days, were missed.”

Jackson wasn’t alone in flopping the race card. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, currently under indictment for bribery, mail fraud and tax evasion, also seized on the opportunity to decry Texas Health Presbyterian as racist. “It is historical what has happened in this community,” Price said. “If a person who looks like me shows up without any insurance, they don’t get the same treatment.”

What basis for the charge of racism, other than that Duncan died and the white patients have lived so far? There have been a number of allegations.

The most substantial has to do with the fact Duncan was misdiagnosed when he originally arrived at the hospital on Sept. 25. He complained of abdominal pain and a headache at the time, but was not running a fever upon entry to the hospital. But three-and-a-half hours into a four-hour stay at Texas Health Presbyterian, Duncan was running a 103-degree temperature and was nevertheless let go after extensive blood tests and CT scans of his head and abdomen.

This certainly raises questions, and Duncan’s disclosure that he had recently arrived from Liberia on Sept. 20 should have had the hospital on alert that he was a potential Ebola patient. But Duncan either didn’t know that the vomiting pregnant woman he had handled and transported just before getting on a plane to the United States was infected with the virus (she died from it shortly after his contact with her) or lied about his exposure that day — and while the hospital shouldn’t have discharged him with a course of antibiotics to treat what they thought was a case of sinusitis, it’s hard not to recognize that Duncan’s failure to give accurate and complete information to the admitting nurse at the hospital contributed greatly to the mistake.

Just 55 hours later, Duncan returned to the hospital — and medical records released to the Associated Press by his family tell the sad story of a scramble by doctors to save his life as his system reeled and the disease took him. Duncan wasn’t actually diagnosed with Ebola until Sept. 30, in part because of his own statements — or lack thereof.

Among the medical records released to AP is a set of notes from his second arrival at the hospital by Duncan’s attending physician, Dr. Otto Javier Marquez-Kerguelen, indicating the doctor didn’t have all the information he needed to make an immediate diagnosis: “Pt states he has not been to any rural areas or funerals recently,” wrote Marquez-Kerguelen. “Pt denies any sick contacts. Pt denies chills. The pt does not do (sic) any other associated signs of sx (symptoms) at this time.” Duncan had failed to tell Texas Health Presbyterian the whole story, either by mistake or otherwise, just as he had failed to inform airport screeners before coming into the United States.

Ebola was included as a potential diagnosis, but so were malaria, gastroenteritis, and influenza. When a few hours after arriving in the hospital Duncan began explosive diarrhea and projectile vomiting, something that had not been in evidence upon his first arrival at the hospital, he was isolated and no less than four physicians were put on his case. Duncan underwent kidney dialysis and was ultimately placed on a ventilator.

Duncan was given brincidofovir, an experimental antiviral drug also being administered to Mukpo, but to no positive effect. The possibility of administering Brantly’s blood serum in an effort to infuse Duncan with antibodies to fight the virus was debated, but sadly there was no blood type match. Jackson and the Duncan family have raised both, as well as made a Monday Morning Quarterback-style suggestion that Duncan be transmitted either to Omaha or Atlanta to save his life.

None of those arguments are even remotely persuasive. The fact is that Thomas Eric Duncan carried the Ebola virus from Liberia to the Dallas area after making statements to airport screeners that turned out not to be true. He put his family members in Dallas and some 100 others at risk of infection as a result. He had no insurance and the cost of his treatment by Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital might have been as high as $500,000. There is no indication the hospital will recover any of that cost.

And for the extraordinary efforts made to save his life, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital is being accused, by Duncan’s family, an indicted local political hack, and a has-been “civil rights” rabble-rouser, of being racist.

This, before the news broke Sunday, as a special bonus, that one of the nurses who treated Duncan has now been diagnosed with Ebola.

That the sad story of Thomas Eric Duncan and his lost battle with Ebola would be infected with the even more aggressive virus of racial demagoguery isn’t a surprise. But it is an outrage.

A parting question for Mr. Jackson: What positive steps do you plan on taking to stop the spread of Ebola or find a cure or a vaccine? If that question can’t bring silence from him, probably nothing will.

Scott McKay
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Scott McKay is a contributing editor at The American Spectator  and publisher of the Hayride, which offers news and commentary on Louisiana and national politics, and RVIVR.com, a national political news aggregation and opinion site. Additionally, he's the author of the new book The Revivalist Manifesto: How Patriots Can Win The Next American Era, available at Amazon.com. He’s also a writer of fiction — check out his three Tales of Ardenia novels Animus, Perdition and Retribution at Amazon. Scott's other project is The Speakeasy, a free-speech social and news app with benefits - check it out here.
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