President Obama promised Americans this afternoon that “we are going to solve this particular problem” of Ebola “just like we’ve solved every other problem.”
Obama delivered remarks on the lawn of the White House before boarding Marine One, en route to Wisconsin to campaign against Gov. Scott Walker.
He said he’d just spoken with some of the disaster response team in West Africa, who are “doing what it takes to make sure that medical personnel and healthcare workers from all countries have what they need to get the job done.”
“And the good news is that it’s starting to have an impact. Based on the conversations that I had today with them, they’re starting to see some progress in Liberia and the infrastructure is beginning to get built out. That’s thanks to the incredible work and dedication of folks from the United States who are leading the way in helping Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone,” he said.
The president said Americans need to be “vigilant” about the disease on the home front, with “new monitoring and movement guidance” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “that is sensible, based in science and tailored to the unique circumstances of each health worker that may be returning from one of these countries after they have provided the kind of help that they need.”
Tomorrow he’ll meet with some healthcare workers who’ve returned from West Africa or are about to go. Obama said they’ll talk about the support efforts as well as “how our policies can support the incredible heroism that they are showing.”
“Of the seven Americans treated for Ebola so far, all have survived. Right now, the only American still undergoing treatment is Dr. Craig Spencer, who contracted the disease abroad while working to protect others. And we should be saluting his service,” he continued. “…We have to keep leading the global response. America cannot look like it is shying away because other people are watching what we do.”
“We got to make sure that those workers who are willing and able and dedicated to go over there in a really tough job — that they’re applauded, thanked and supported. That should be our priority. And we can make sure that when they come back, they are being monitored in a prudent fashion,” Obama said in a dig at New Jersey’s quarantine of a nurse recently returned from Sierra Leone. “But we want to make sure that we understand that they are doing God’s work over there. And they’re doing that to keep us safe.”
The country doesn’t “just react based on our fears,” the president said.
“When we have volunteers who are taking time out from their families, from their loved ones and so forth to go over there because they have very particular expertise to tackle a very difficult job, we want to make sure that when they come back that we are prudent, that we are making sure that they are not at risk themselves or at risk of spreading the disease, but we don’t want to do things that aren’t based on science and best practices because if we do then we’re just putting another barrier on somebody who’s already doing really important work on our behalf,” Obama added. “And that’s not something that I think any of us should want to see happen.”