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Second Ebola Diagnosis In Texas Raises Questions About What The Hospital Is Doing Wrong

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on October 12th, 2014 11:08 pm by HL

Second Ebola Diagnosis In Texas Raises Questions About What The Hospital Is Doing Wrong

Hospital officials may not have followed the CDC’s protocol for containing the virus.

The post Second Ebola Diagnosis In Texas Raises Questions About What The Hospital Is Doing Wrong appeared first on ThinkProgress.

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where a health care worker has tested positive for Ebola

The Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, where a health care worker has tested positive for Ebola

CREDIT: AP Photo/LM Otero

A health care worker in Dallas has been preliminarily diagnosed with Ebola, suggesting that the first case of the deadly virus has been transmitted on U.S. soil. The news has renewed questions over whether Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, the facility that recently treated the first case of Ebola diagnosed in the United States, is doing enough to stem the spread of the disease.

The worker — who has not been identified by name — was one of the hospital employees who helped treat Thomas E. Duncan, the Liberian man who recently died of Ebola after traveling to Dallas. Federal health experts have been tracking all of the Americans with whom Duncan may have come into contact while he was contagious.

According to hospital officials, the infected individual helped treat Duncan during his second trip to the emergency room, when he was seriously ill. “That health care worker is a heroic person who provided care to Mr. Duncan,” Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkin said at a news conference on Sunday morning.

The infected worker was reportedly wearing full protective gear around Duncan, so it’s not yet clear how the virus was transmitted. But, according to federal officials, the hospital failed to follow at least part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s protocol for containing Ebola. The agency has released a set of detailed guidelines for health care facilities to ensure that the virus is not transmitted further.

There has been some controversy over the care that Duncan received at Texas Health Presbyterian. First of all, it’s concerning that he was sent home after his first visit to the ER; the fact that he had a high fever and had recently traveled from Western Africa should have alerted officials to the potential Ebola risk.

According to the Associated Press, the hospital has repeatedly changed its story about what exactly medical professionals knew about Duncan’s health. Newly released documents show that some of the hospital staff may have recognized the Ebola threat when he was first admitted, but that didn’t translate to swifter action. The state health department is now considering a probe into the hospital to make sure it’s following health and safety laws, and the CDC is going to send additional staff to Texas.

Joined by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, Duncan’s family has repeatedly criticized the hospital, saying he was given substandard care because he was not a white American. They point out that Duncan was the only person treated for Ebola in the U.S. who wasn’t taken to Nebraska Medical Center, which has a high-tech quarantine unit, or given experimental drugs that may help combat the virus. Duncan’s nephew has told reporters that said his uncle’s care was “either incompetence or negligence,” and he finds it “conspicuous” that all the white Ebola patients in the U.S. have survived while “the one black man died.”

More broadly, there has been some concern that panic over the global Ebola epidemic — which has claimed more than 4,000 lives in Western Africa — is leading to an uptick in xenophobia and racism. Pundits’ increasingly insistent calls to close the U.S. borders to protect against Ebola-infected travelers is furthering a narrative of “otherness.” Some African travelers arriving back to the U.S. and Europe say that medical staff is now refusing to care for them in routine doctor’s appointments out of fear of contracting Ebola, even if they’re not showing any symptoms.

When it comes to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital, officials promise they’re continuing to “review and evaluate” the decisions around Duncan’s treatment. The hospital has also isolated the health care worker who is showing signs of Ebola infection and is working to track down the other people who may have come into contact with them. Officials say they’re still confident they know how to contain the virus.

“Contingency plans were put into place, and the hospital will discuss the way that the health care worker followed those contingency plans, which will make our jobs in monitoring and containment much easier in this case than in the last one,” Jenkin said. “While this was obviously bad news, it is not news that should bring about panic.”

In response to growing concern about travelers bringing Ebola into the United States, airport officials began enhanced screenings on Saturday. Still, experts maintain that the best way to respond to Ebola is to address the outbreak’s epicenter in Western Africa, where embattled countries are still struggling to get the health care resources they need to treat the virus.

Update

President Obama was briefed on the new Ebola case on Sunday. He ordered an expeditious investigation into the failures of Texas Health Presbyterian, and also asked the CDC to ensure that hospitals get more preparation for how to deal with other Ebola cases that may emerge.

Update

The CDC has confirmed that the health care worker has contracted Ebola.

The post Second Ebola Diagnosis In Texas Raises Questions About What The Hospital Is Doing Wrong appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Why Christians Are Helping Lead Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement

“I believe everyone [is] born equal. And they’re loved by Jesus. And I think that everyone, therefore, should get equal rights in the political system,” Jason Wong said.

The post Why Christians Are Helping Lead Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement appeared first on ThinkProgress.

Joshua Wong, 17-year old student leader and evangelical Christian, stands among student pro-democracy protesters.

Joshua Wong, 17-year old student leader and evangelical Christian, stands among student pro-democracy protesters.

CREDIT: AP

When thousands flooded the streets of Hong Kong late last month to protest the Chinese government’s encroachment on the city’s political autonomy, demonstrators were quick to claim many common beliefs: a love of freedom, a support for Hong Kong’s unique status within China, and a passionate belief in democracy.

But as the protests stretch into their third week, many participants have discovered that they are also unified by something else: their Christian faith.

As several news outlets have noted, the leadership of Hong Kong’s burgeoning protest movement — which seeks to preserve the city’s right to elect its own politicians without interference from the Chinese government — is headed up by several self-identified Christians. One of the effort’s most prominent leaders, for example, is Jason Wong, the 17-year-old student activist who achieved fame for leading several student demonstrations in Hong Kong before helping organize the recent pro-democracy protests. Although Wong, an evangelical Christian who attended United Christian College in Hong Kong, has said that his activism is primarily about protecting Hong Kong’s democratic process, he has also rooted his advocacy in a distinctly Christian theology.

“I believe in Christ,” Wong told PRI. “I believe everyone [is] born equal. And they’re loved by Jesus. And I think that everyone, therefore, should get equal rights in the political system. And we should care [for] the weak and poor in our society.”

Other Christians have also worked to assist the protestors. In addition to Wong, two of the three leaders of Occupy Central, one of the main protest groups, are Christian, and Rev. Joseph Zen, Hong Kong’s former Catholic bishop, has taken to the streets to express solidarity with the movement. Moreover, when government forces fired tear gas canisters at protestors in late September, nearby Wan Chai Methodist church opened its doors to assist, offering its facilities for demonstrators to receive first aid, store supplies, and distribute food. As media coverage of church’s actions mounted, Rev. Tin Yau Yuen, the president of the Methodist Church in Hong Kong, published an open letter explaining the church’s position towards the protestors, noting that while the religious body doesn’t formally endorse groups like Occupy Central, the Christian faith inspires many believers to fight for democracy.

“The Gospel we believe in is a Gospel which redeems people from evil and sin, not only saving us from personal sin, but also freeing us from the suppression and binding of evil and sin caused by others, society and constitution,” the letter read. “It’s impossible to be politically neutral, as who can have no political view? … As Christians, we take sides according to Bible teaching and church tradition, rather than simply seeing things from the social perspective.”

But while many protestors in Hong Kong cite their faith as a key motivator, experts argue that their participation is also due to a mixture of politics, demographics, and fear of persecution. To be sure, the primary concern of demonstrators in Hong Kong is holding Beijing accountable to its promise to guarantee the former British colony full democracy by 2017. However, as Hong Kong locals malign Beijing’s attempt to increase control over the city, some speculate that religious protestors are concerned that the Chinese government will eventually implement other oppressive policies typical in mainland China — namely, the government’s much-maligned restrictions on religious freedom.

“The Hong Kong society is very free,” Carsten Vala, Associate Professor of Political Science at Loyola University, Maryland and research fellow at Purdue University’s Center on Religion and Chinese Society, told ThinkProgress. “The pushback here is [partly] the fear that what happens in China will someday happen in Hong Kong unless people speak out.”

Indeed, the Chinese government, which is run entirely by the ardently atheist Communist Party of China, is well known for limiting expressions of faith — especially those of religious minorities. The U.S. State Department cited China as a “Country of Particular Concern” in its “International Religious Freedom Report for 2013,” released in July, noting that several religious groups in the region regularly face obstacles to the free expression of their faith. The government in Beijing has attempted to control religion by sanctioning “official” versions of Catholicism and Protestantism, inventing its own brand of state-sponsored Christian theology, and detaining or imprisoning congregants who attend underground “house churches” that operate without government approval. Chinese officials have also recently launched a campaign to forcibly remove crosses from several churches, and detained several Chinese Christians who resisted through acts of civil disobedience. And in addition to cracking down on the actions of Tibetan buddhists, the Chinese government has officially banned fasting during Ramadan for Uighur Muslims in the country’s Western region, with local police reportedly forcing some Muslim students to end their fast.

As the protests in Hong Kong enter a new phase of negotiations with local officials, Vala noted that religious minorities in mainland China are likely keeping a close eye on the effectiveness of the demonstrations.

“The bigger issue is that there are many other groups that the primarily Han Chinese party rules — mainly Tibetans and Uighurs — who are watching this,” Vala said.

The prominence of Christianity among the protest movement’s leadership is also a byproduct of the heightened role religion plays in Hong Kong society. Christians only make up 11.7 percent of the population of Hong Kong — 6.6 percent Protestant and 5 percent Catholic — but that is significantly higher than in mainland China, and is evidence of Christianity’s unique history in Hong Kong. The British brought Christianity with them when they annexed Hong Kong from mainland China during the Opium Wars in 1842, and the faith has remained a key part of the city’s political infrastructure ever since — especially within the education system and student population.

“Christian and mission bodies cooperated with the British colonial government in setting up schools and social welfare organizations,” Francis Yip, Associate Professor at The Chinese University of Hong Kong’s Divinity School of Chung Chi College, told ThinkProgress. “This historical legacy explains why about half of the elementary and high schools in Hong Kong have some sort of Christian background. This is also why a substantial percentage of the elites in Hong Kong are Christians.”

Still, not all Hong Kong Christians have been supportive of groups like Occupy Central. Rev. Paul Kwong, the archbishop of the Hong Kong Anglican Church, has openly opposed the protests, preaching a sermon in which he asked his parishioners not to join the demonstrations.

“Jesus remained silent in the face of Pilate,” he said, according to the South China Morning Post. “He was like a lamb awaiting slaughter. Sometimes we don’t have to say anything. Silence is better than saying anything.”

Kwong’s sermon, however, was blasted by several other faith leaders, and the provincial secretary of the Anglican church quickly attempted to walk back his comments, saying he “did not intend to belittle anyone.”

Ultimately, however, experts agree that while there is some disagreement in their ranks, Christians seem to be an important component of Hong Kong’s growing pro-democracy movement. And while the current protests might fade over time, the city’s Christian supporters of democracy — like the rest of the protestors marching through streets — don’t look to be going away anytime soon.

“People who are aware of the relation of their faith to social-political issues will continue to do something,” Yip said. “They will continue to work for the good and transformation of Hong Kong.”

The post Why Christians Are Helping Lead Hong Kong’s Pro-Democracy Movement appeared first on ThinkProgress.

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