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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Jill Fredel, Director of Communications
302-255-9047, Cell 302-357-7498
Email: jill.fredel@delaware.gov

Date: November 18, 2014


Dover, DE (November 14, 2014) - Delaware's Division of Public Health (DPH) and the State Human Relations Commission (SHRC) remind Delawareans that unlawful discrimination based on one's belonging to a protected class - including race and national origin - is unlawful. Discrimination arising from fear and misinformation about the Ebola virus will not be tolerated. The State Human Relations Commission (SHRC) protects the rights of all Delawareans against unlawful discrimination in housing and places of public accommodations. Complaints of discrimination can be filed online, by mail or in person.

With the four cases of Ebola diagnosed in the US and the ongoing outbreak in West Africa making daily news headlines, some Delawareans have experienced negative treatment due to their race, national origin, or accent. These incidents have been associated with the perception that all individuals with real or assumed ties to African countries have Ebola.

DPH reminds the public that there are currently no cases of Ebola in Delaware or the US, after a physician was declared virus free on November 12. All cases of Ebola virus in the U.S. have been restricted to individuals traveling from affected countries who had direct contact with someone with Ebola symptoms or medical professionals who have cared for infected persons. The cases have not been restricted to individuals of any single race, nationality or other group.

Greater awareness may have prevented the following Delaware incidents:

"The Commission wants to ensure that misplaced fear, ugly rumors or misinformation do not result in acts of discrimination," said Calvin Christopher, SHRC Chair. "Anyone, regardless of national origin, who feels they have experienced discrimination in housing or in a place that is open to the public - such as hotels, stores, restaurants, movie theaters, schools, daycare facilities, or recreational facilities - should call our toll-free number, 1-877-54HUMAN, to file a discrimination report with the SHRC."

"There is no medical or scientific reason to assume anyone has Ebola unless they have had direct exposure to a person with symptoms in the last 21 days," said Dr. Rattay, DPH director. "Individuals who have been in the United States for the past 21 days are not considered at risk for Ebola. DPH knows who has been to the three West African countries most impacted by the illness and is in daily contact with them. There is nothing to fear."

DPH has been preparing for a potential Ebola illness in Delaware, working with medical providers, hospitals, some employers, EMS and other partners to assure readiness.

Anyone wishing to discuss a suspected case, may contact DPH 24/7 at 888-295-5156, including weekends and holidays. For general questions, the CDC has a 24/7 line available for information on the Ebola virus at 800-CDC-INFO (800-232-4636).

A person who is deaf, hard-of-hearing, deaf-blind, or speech-disabled can call the DPH phone number above by using TTY services. Dial 7-1-1 or 800-232-5460 to type your conversation to a relay operator, who reads your conversation to a hearing person at DPH. The relay operator types the hearing person's spoken words back to the TTY user. To learn more about TTY availability in Delaware, visit http://delawarerelay.com Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations. DPH, a division of DHSS, urges Delawareans to make healthier choices with the 5-2-1 Almost None campaign: eat 5 or more fruits and vegetables each day, have no more than 2 hours of recreational screen time each day (includes TV, computer, gaming), get 1 or more hours of physical activity each day, drink almost no sugary beverages.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.