Weekly Address: Focused on the Fight Against Ebola
In this week’s address, the President discussed the measures we are taking to respond to Ebola cases at home, while containing the epidemic at its source in West Africa. This week, we continued to focus on domestic preparedness, with the creation of new CDC guidelines and the announcement of new travel measures ensuring all travelers from the three affected countries are directed to and screened at one of five airports.
The President emphasized that it’s important to follow the facts, rather than fear, as New Yorkers did yesterday when they stuck to their daily routine. Ebola is not an easily transmitted disease, and America is leading the world in the fight to stamp it out in West Africa.
Remarks of President Barack Obama
The White House
October 25, 2014
Hi everybody, this week, we remained focused on our fight against Ebola. In Dallas, dozens of family, friends and others who had been in close contact with the first patient, Mr. Duncan, were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease is actually very hard to catch. Across Dallas, others being monitored—including health care workers who were most at risk—were also declared Ebola-free.
Two Americans—patients in Georgia and Nebraska who contracted the disease in West Africa—recovered and were released from the hospital. The first of the two Dallas nurses who were diagnosed—Nina Pham—was declared Ebola free, and yesterday I was proud to welcome her to the Oval Office and give her a big hug. The other nurse—Amber Vinson—continues to improve as well. And in Africa, the countries of Senegal and Nigeria were declared free of Ebola—a reminder that this disease can be contained and defeated.
In New York City, medical personnel moved quickly to isolate and care for the patient there—a doctor who recently returned from West Africa. The city and state of New York have strong public health systems, and they’ve been preparing for this possibility. Because of the steps we’ve taken in recent weeks, our CDC experts were already at the hospital, helping staff prepare for this kind of situation. Before the patient was even diagnosed, we deployed one of our new CDC rapid response teams. And I’ve assured Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that they’ll have all the federal support they need as they go forward.
More broadly, this week we continued to step up our efforts across the country. New CDC guidelines and outreach is helping hospitals improve training and protect their health care workers. The Defense Department’s new team of doctors, nurses and trainers will respond quickly if called upon to help.
New travel measures are now directing all travelers from the three affected countries in West Africa into five U.S. airports where we’re conducting additional screening. Starting this week, these travelers will be required to report their temperatures and any symptoms on a daily basis—for 21 days until we’re confident they don’t have Ebola. Here at the White House, my new Ebola response coordinator is working to ensure a seamless response across the federal government. And we have been examining the protocols for protecting our brave health care workers, and, guided by the science, we’ll continue to work with state and local officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and health of the American people.
In closing, I want to leave you with some basic facts. First, you cannot get Ebola easily. You can’t get it through casual contact with someone. Remember, down in Dallas, even Mr. Duncan’s family—who lived with him and helped care for him—even they did not get Ebola. The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms. That’s the science. Those are the facts.
Sadly, Mr. Duncan did not survive, and we continue to keep his family in our prayers. At the same time, it’s important to remember that of the seven Americans treated so far for Ebola—the five who contracted it in West Africa, plus the two nurses from Dallas—all seven have survived. Let me say that again—seven Americans treated; all seven survived. I’ve had two of them in the Oval Office. And now we’re focused on making sure the patient in New York receives the best care as well.
Here’s the bottom line. Patients can beat this disease. And we can beat this disease. But we have to stay vigilant. We have to work together at every level—federal, state and local. And we have to keep leading the global response, because the best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source—in West Africa.
And we have to be guided by the science—we have to be guided by the facts, not fear. Yesterday, New Yorkers showed us the way. They did what they do every day—jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks. That spirit—that determination to carry on—is part of what makes New York one of the great cities in the world. And that’s the spirit all of us can draw upon, as Americans, as we meet this challenge together.