After noting the Speaker traveling uber-TB story, my wife pointed out a related, yet very different case. Another man was diagnosed with drug-resistant TB. But instead of being gently informed of it, then allowed to travel with it across multiple national borders, this fellow was monitored closely, then incarcerated.
The differences? Among other things, Andrew Speaker, Typhoid Ambulance-Chaser, is wealthy, white, good-looking, and professional. Robert Daniels, in contrast, is a Russian immigrant, and has been homeless for years. How many media accounts, how many policy debates are considering class, nationality, and "lookism" in their discussions of epidemic treatment? Just how much of the living room does this vast elephant occupy?
The NPR story raises a host of questions. For instance, the two men offered strikingly similar disease vectors. Yet consider the homeless man's treatment:
Daniels hasn't been charged with a crime. He's there because he's been judged a menace to public health.
Speaker is exactly this. Their gender is the same, both traveled, and their ages are comparable. Yet the ambulance chaser is now in a private facility, after being granted national media attention. No media account mentions his being imprisoned or otherwise incarcerated. Consider the conditions Speaker is enduring now, and compare with Daniels':
"He's not seen the horizon, seen a tree, from his locked room for 10 months," says Don Pachoda, a lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union. "He has a light on…two lights, two bulbs…24 hours a day. There's a video camera in the corner of the room that takes pictures of his every activity in that room 24/7. His mail is opened routinely. And he has absolutely no activities during the day. ...
Daniels' jailer is Joe Arpaio, who calls himself "the toughest sheriff in America." He points out that Daniels already receives special treatment: He eats hospital food, not the 15-cent meals of outdated green bologna that ordinary inmates get in Maricopa County.
After reporters began writing about the harsh conditions of Daniels' confinement, Sheriff Arpaio allowed him a cell phone and TV.
Imagine the next disease carrier, infected with, say, Ebola, or something less desire. Do we imagine that a Mexican immigrant will receive the same treatment as a white plastic surgeon from Chicago? Will we see similar discourse of personal responsibility and (my favorite) the possibility of forgiveness?
There's a lot more here, especially in terms of gendering and medical civil liberties, but this class angle is a key point on its own terms.