Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with the deadly Ebola virus inside the United States, died Oct. 8 in Texas and now a family member claims that racism and disparity are responsible for his death.
In an interview on CNN’s OutFront, Josephus Weeks, nephew of the now-dead Liberian man, said the color of his uncle’s skin played an important role in the Texas hospital’s decision to release Duncan while he had a raging fever.
“He’s the only person that has died from Ebola here in America,” Weeks said.
Referring to another American patient, Dr. Kent Brantly – who is white and survived with the help of timely medical intervention – Weeks added, “He’s a black man. He’s poor, didn’t have insurance.”
Duncan left Liberia and arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20. He developed a fever and stomach pains four days later and was admitted to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas’ emergency room.
On Sept. 26, he was sent home after doctors failed to diagnose him with Ebola, only to be hospitalized two days later, this time in critical condition. In isolation and fighting for his life, Duncan received the experimental drug brincidofovir on Oct. 3.
Many are questioning why it took the doctors so long to recognize his symptoms even though it was known that Duncan had been in Liberia. Moreover, questions are being asked as to why it had taken the doctors so long to give him the anti-viral drug, especially knowing that Ebola is a quick-moving virus.
As questions surround Duncan’s treatment (or lack thereof), a health care worker who treated him tested positive for Ebola, hospital officials announced on Sunday.
NBC News reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will perform tests to confirm the diagnosis, and if the results are positive, the nurse would become the first Ebola case to be transmitted or contracted in America.