City Hall

Dallas Spokesman Says Reporters Scaring Residents at Apartments Where Ebola Patient Stayed

A school bus parked in front of the Ivy Apartments yesterday afternoon and let out dozens of kids as reporters filmed B-roll and took photographs across the street. The news stations had already confirmed that this apartment complex in Vickery Meadows was where Thomas Eric Duncan stayed in Dallas before he ended up at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital with an Ebola diagnosis.

The parents who lived there waited outside for their kids to get off the bus and ushered them back inside the sprawling complex. Most waiting outside said they didn't speak English. One father who did said he hadn't been given any information by the building's management or the city about Ebola.

"I didn't hear anything," he said. Residents interviewed by WFAA and The Dallas Morning News would make similar statements, that they hadn't heard anything from anyone official. If there was an Ebola threat here, only the media seemed to be clued in on it.

Councilwoman Jennifer Staubach Gates dropped by and gave an interview to the television crews across the street. A reporter from NBC told her he'd already confirmed that workers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had visited the complex. Gates wouldn't say one way or another. "Yes the CDC does have boots on the ground. I'm not going to confirm the actual location," she said. She said she was there to make sure the residents were safe. "The city's going to do everything they can to cooperate with the CDC," she said. She left after a few minutes.

Not long after, a little before 5 p.m., Dallas City Hall spokesman Sana Syed sent a stern email to the news media. "Numerous reporters and photographers converged on a northeast Dallas apartment complex today, in which the Ebola patient was residing," Syed wrote. "We have received reports about overly aggressive behavior by some media representatives which has unnecessarily alarmed many of the residents. We understand that you have a job to do, but we ask that you also be mindful of the safety and security of these residents."

The building's parking lot was blocked off by a private security car. The police officer standing by said the building wasn't on lockdown. He was only sent there to keep reporters off the property and said he didn't know anything else.

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Amy Martyn
Contact: Amy Martyn