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.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.