President Barack Obama spoke with New York officials Thursday night to offer federal assistance to help contain the spread of Ebola, after the first case of the deadly virus was confirmed in the largest city in the U.S. Craig Spencer tested positive for the Ebola virus Thursday, making him the fourth person to be diagnosed with the disease in the country.
Obama spoke with Governor Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio in separate calls and offered support “to provide the highest standard of patient care, maintain the strictest safety protocols for healthcare workers and to identify and, as necessary, monitor any contacts of the patient potentially at risk of exposure.”
Spencer, who contracted the disease while treating Ebola patients in West Africa, was taken to the city’s Bellevue Hospital on Thursday, six days after returning from Guinea. The deadly virus has so far infected nearly 10,000 people, mostly in West Africa, many of whom caught the disease while caring for Ebola patients.
“The President noted the extensive preparations that New York City and, in particular, Bellevue Hospital Center, where the patient is being treated, have undertaken to prepare for this contingency,” the White House said.
Obama also discussed the deployment of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, or CDC, in New York. He also noted during the telephone conversation that an additional CDC response team had been sent to the city.
The governor and the city’s mayor were asked to remain in contact with Obama’s administration about developments concerning Spencer’s case. Cuomo and de Blasio were also asked to be in constant touch with Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain, and CDC Director Tom Frieden, the White House said, in the statement.
Cuomo and Blasio reportedly urged the people of New York not to be alarmed by the recent diagnosis as all city officials have been following the appropriate protocols in their handling and treatment of the patient.
U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer also said in a statement Thursday evening that he would be watching the New York Ebola case.
“I’ve spoken this evening to both the Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain and HHS Secretary Burwell; they have assured me that all federal resources will be available to New York in any way. I will be monitoring the situation very closely,” he said in the statement.