The fiancée of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, has been unable to find a new home in Dallas, even though she was released from monitoring on Monday after showing no signs of the virus.
Louise Troh, her son and a nephew were quarantined at a Catholic Church camp in Oak Cliff, but they are still living there while they look for new housing.
Pastors at Troh's church, Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, have been trying to help her rent a home.
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“We’re hopeful today. Things are looking better,” said the Rev. Mark Wingfield, associate pastor at Wilshire Baptist. “The last few days we’ve ended the day very disappointed in the way things have gone.”
Troh and her family left their unit at The Ivy Apartments in the Dallas Vickery Meadow neighborhood when workers in hazardous materials suits were decontaminating the place.
Family possessions were removed and incinerated as a precaution against spreading the disease.
Thomas Eric Duncan stayed in the apartment before being admitted on Sept. 28 to isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas, where he later died.
“You can imagine your own residence, and you were taken out of it, and everything in it was destroyed and you’ve got to start over again,” Wingfield said.
Experts say Troh and her family pose no threat to anyone, and they have nothing from the old apartment to bring to a new one. Still, that has not satisfied landlords to whom Wingfield has spoken.
“One larger complex in the area we talked to said we just don’t need any publicity out of this, and she’s welcome to fill out an application, but if she does it will not be approved,” Wingfield said.
Non-profit organizations serving other families in the Vickery Meadow neighborhood are facing difficulty operating programs since many volunteers are refusing to work in the area where an Ebola patient was, according to Laura Ward, with the Dallas Foundation.
“They're understaffed. They are short on volunteers. There have just been all kinds of needs that have come up in the community and for the non-profits as the result of something unexpected,” Ward said.
The Dallas Foundation is helping the other organizations return to normal.
“We've been overwhelmed by the number of people who come forward in our community and said, 'How can I help?'” Ward said.
Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings is working with Wilshire Baptist on finding a new home for Troh and her family.
“It is challenging,” Rawlings said. “And that’s why we as a community have got to be sure we understand the science and the medicine behind this so she can be welcomed back into a community and pick up her life again.”
The mayor said he is encouraged by the number of possible contacts leaving the watch list with no symptoms.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Wednesday that 66 contacts have now completed a 21-day monitoring period disease-free and 108 are still being monitored. All possible contacts will be released Nov. 7.
“You see me knocking on wood right now, everyday. That’s what I do,” Rawlings said.