President Barack Obama discussed the first confirmed Ebola case in New York and the nationalresponse by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in his weekly address Saturday. Obama mentioned the recovery of Nina Pham and Ashoka Mukpo, both tested negative for Ebola this week, stressed the difficulty of contracting the virus and urged the public to be “guided by the facts, not fear.”
The first Ebola patient in New York City, Craig Spencer, tested positive for the virus on Thursday. The doctor treated patients in West Africa and went bowling in Brooklyn before developing a fever. Obama praised the response of New York and its residents. As part of the federal response, CDC officials were dispatched to Spencer’s hospital as was the agency’s rapid response team.
“n 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,” Obama said. The president applauded the “spirit” of New Yorkers following the news. “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,” Obama said.
New CDC guidelines and protocols to better prepare hospitals ahead of a possible Ebola case and the creation of corps of medical staff under the Department of Defense were also discussed by the president during the address.
Airport procedures were also updated. In addition to airport screenings in five airports, travelers from West Africa must self-monitor their temperature for 21 days. “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,” Obama said.
The president did not discuss the potential mandatory quarantine for “high risk” travelers announced by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday.
Obama reiterated how difficult it was to contract Ebola, citing the relatives living with Thomas Eric Duncan, the first confirmed Ebola case in the U.S., and the hundreds of potential contacts that have been cleared after a 21-day monitoring period. Duncan succumbed to the virus on Oct. 8.
“We have to be guided by the science—we have to be guided by the facts, not fear,” Obama said.