For now, the occupants of the Vickery Meadow apartment where patient Thomas Eric Duncan was staying are hunkered down in their ebola-tainted quarters while a Hazmat team scrubs the unit and the rest of Dallas preps for the end times.
Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told reporters in a conference call this afternoon that he would like the family moved to a new, ebola-free apartment, preferably one equipped with a washing machine.
Seems reasonable. The trick is finding an apartment manager willing to take in a family that's been exposed to one of the deadliest diseases known to man. I happened to be at City Hall poring over a stack of documents in the housing department around the time Jenkins was expressing his hopes for a swift relocation, and I was treated to a first-hand glimpse of what the official rehousing effort sounds like.
It took place on speaker phone a couple of cubicles down. The conversation was occasionally drowned out by other people talking, but the gist of it was pretty clear. Here's a rough approximation.
Housing lady: Hi. This is the Dallas housing department. We were wondering if you might have a unit available. There's a great family, a single mom and her kids, well-behaved, always pays their rent on time, may have been exposed to ebola ...
Apartment manager: Wait, ebola?
Housing lady: Yeah. It'd make the Department of Homeland Security really happy, and the Texas Department of State Health Services will cover three months' rent.
Apartment manager: Hmmm....
Housing lady: Pretty please?
Apartment manager: I'd love to -- really -- but we just don't have any space right now.
Jenkins' chief of staff says there might be a housing update at a press conference scheduled for 5 p.m. at the county Records Building. Perhaps Jenkins has found a spare bedroom at his Highland Park home?
Send your story tips to the author, Eric Nicholson.