The eyes of the country are on Texas, as the public continues to follow the progress of a small string of Dallas residents that have contracted the Ebola virus.
While the wide scale global and political implications have been inundating the news, the viewpoint from the ground in Dallas can easily be washed away in a sea of analysis and criticism. Helping us gain a little perspective on the situation is Robert Wilonsky, digital managing editor at the Dallas Morning News who paints a more nuanced picture of the scene there.
“Most people are going about their daily lives,” Wilonsky says, asserting that most Dallas residents have a pretty clear understanding of how the virus is contracted and the relatively low probability of catching the the illness. “They aren’t paying as rampant attention to it as we [the media] are.”
That calm demeanor has yet to translate to everyone however – The Daily Beast recently gave Dallas the moniker of “Plague City.” It’s this type of dialogue that some have criticized for inciting fear. “I have an 11- year-old who, two nights ago, said he couldn’t fall asleep because he was consumed with thoughts of sickness and death,” Wilonsky says. “When it comes to Ebola we have to have some context.”
It’s these sentiments that have urged some authorities to propose travel bans and close schools in an attempt to contain the virus. “I think there is a certain point where all this sort of becomes wearying and we begin to adopt a sarcastic sneering attitude, and we don’t want to do that either,” Wilonsky says. “People I think are smart enough to understand that they shouldn’t freak out, but also smart enough that – yes – maybe you want to proceed with some caution or some care.”