Calling the risk of a serious outbreak in the United States “extraordinarily low,” President Barack Obama said the matter was nonetheless being taken “very seriously at the highest levels of government.”
The president met with Cabinet officials and Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Wednesday to review the situation in Dallas, then released details on the government’s plan for containing the disease in the U.S. and fighting it at its source in West Africa:
1. The CDC will now send a rapid response team, a “swat team, essentially” to be on the ground within 24 hours as soon as someone is diagnosed with Ebola so the CDC can walk the local hospital through the protocols step-by-step. That includes use and disposal of protective equipment.
2. We are communicating the lessons learned from the problems that occurred in Dallas to hospitals, clinics, and first-responders around the country on a ongoing and up-to-date basis.
3. We are working carefully with the city of Dallas and the state of Texas to ensure that, in the event any other cases arise among health workers, they are properly cared for in a way that is consistent with public safety.
4. We are “contact-tracing” to ensure that anyone who may have come into contact with the affected individuals are being monitored in a way to prevent the further spread of this disease.
5. We will continue to monitor the health status of the other healthcare workers in Dallas.
6. We will continue screening processes at airports and make sure teams are in place to transport suspected cases to specialized, secure hospitals if needed.
7. We will continue to lead the international response in West Africa because “the investment we make in helping Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea deal with this problem is an investment in our own public health.”
If the protocols are properly followed, Obama said, “then the likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low.”