Third Rule of Preventing an Ebola Outbreak: Ignore Jesse Jackson

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian national being treated for Ebola in Dallas, Texas, is dead, and no one should find that surprising. With a lethality rate somewhere between 50-60%, your chances of surviving EVD aren’t all that great to begin with, never mind the total lack of demonstrably effective treatments for the disease.

Healthcare expert Rev. Jesse Jackson, however, is suspicious.

The Rev. Jesse Jackson, who’s serving as a spokesman for the family, said that was a concern.

“I would tend to think that those who do not have insurance, those who do not have Medicaid, do not have the same priorities as those who do,” the civil rights leader said.

I can’t tell if it is ignorance or arrogance that drove Rev. Jackson to, without any evidence whatsoever, publicly accuse Texas Health Presbyterian of letting Thomas E. Duncan die of a hemorrhagic fever because he didn’t have  health insurance. Because he was not a citizen. Because he was a black African.

Look, this is nuts.

From the moment Thomas E. Duncan was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian, that hospital was shoved under the public microscope. They’d already fucked up sending him home while working on a diagnosis, and every seemingly minor detail from that point forward — be it the hospital’s lack of incinerators and autoclaves, or their inability to find workers willing to clean Duncan’s room — became fulcrums for controversy. Do you really think they’d just let the poor guy die knowing full-well they’d be run through the ringer for it?

Not if they were smart.

Never mind that, however. What of the hospital workers who risked their lives simply standing in the same room as Thomas E. Duncan? If you’re just going to stand there and let a man die, why risk the potential worker’s compensation and wrongful death suits by sending doctors and nurses into the room with the man? Why risk spreading the disease? Why not throw him into an isolation ward and forget about him?

These, of course, are questions Jesse Jackson can’t answer. Because he’s not a doctor. Because he knows next to nothing about healthcare. Because he’s an attention-seeking egomaniac who has taken Martin Luther King’s great mission as his own, and, blinded by ambition and ignorance, driven it squarely into the goddamned ground.

Which is where this case is going to end up, if it even makes it to court in the first place. Whether or not they are being coached by Jackson is unclear, but so far the family’s arguments are… less-than-compelling:

“We feel he didn’t get the medicine and treatment for the disease because he’s African and they don’t consider him as important as the other three,” said Josephus Weeks, his nephew.

Unless Josephus Weeks is himself a medical doctor experienced in treating EVD, what he “feels” is irrelevant, but even if he can demonstrate Duncan did not receive the medication early enough to save his life, he would still have to prove Texas Health Presbyterian was responsible for the delay, and deliberately deprioritized the treatment because Duncan was black.

It is unlikely Duncan’s surviving family members will be able to prove any of this. There’s no evidence experimental Ebola treatments even work, much less an accepted time frame for the administration of these drugs. And because these drugs are experimental, Texas Health Presbyterian was required by law to obtain written permission from the FDA to administer them. This can take days. The other tree EVD patients treated in the United States — all of whom were white, all of whom survived — received these drugs immediately, not because of their race, but because their respective hospitals were informed well ahead of time that they would be treating patients for EVD, and prepared accordingly.

Texas Heath Presbyterian didn’t know Thomas Duncan was coming until he was right on their doorstep.

But it doesn’t matter. Rev. Jackson has already planted the seeds of doubt in the minds of the credulous, watering them with their very realistic concerns of racial bias within the American healthcare industry. If he tries to take this beyond a brief exercise in sensationalism it is likely he’ll be laughed out of court, but the damage is done. Now, thanks to him, the whackaloons will put this one on their shelves alongside Death Panels and Obama’s birth certificate, to be deployed whenever the tyranny of the federal government must be exposed.


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