President Obama & Vice President Joe Biden

President Obama & Vice President Joe Biden

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Focused on the Fight Against Ebola

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
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.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

What You Need To Know About Ebola

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
October 18, 2014
Today, I want to take a few minutes to speak with you-directly and clearly-about Ebola: what we're doing about it, and what you need to know.  Because meeting a public health challenge like this isn't just a job for government.  All of us-citizens, leaders, the media-have a responsibility and a role to play.  This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need.  We have to be guided by the science.  We have to remember the basic facts.
First, what we're seeing now is not an "outbreak" or an "epidemic" of Ebola in America.  We're a nation of more than 300 million people.  To date, we've seen three cases of Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia, came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected while they were treating him.  Our thoughts and our prayers are with them, and we're doing everything we can to give them the best care possible.  Now, even one infection is too many.  At the same time, we have to keep this in perspective.  As our public health experts point out, every year thousands of Americans die from the flu.
Second, Ebola is actually a difficult disease to catch.  It's not transmitted through the air like the flu.  You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus.  The only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing symptoms.  I've met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who've treated Ebola patients.  I've met with an Ebola patient who recovered, right in the Oval Office.  And I'm fine.
Third, we know how to fight this disease.  We know the protocols.  And we know that when they're followed, they work.  So far, five Americans who got infected with Ebola in West Africa have been brought back to the United States-and all five have been treated safely, without infecting healthcare workers. 
And this week, at my direction, we're stepping up our efforts.  Additional CDC personnel are on the scene in Dallas and Cleveland.  We're working quickly to track and monitor anyone who may have been in close contact with someone showing symptoms.  We're sharing lessons learned so other hospitals don't repeat the mistakes that happened in Dallas.  The CDC's new Ebola rapid response teams will deploy quickly to help hospitals implement the right protocols.  New screening measures are now in place at airports that receive nearly all passengers arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.  And we'll continue to constantly review our measures, and update them as needed, to make sure we're doing everything we can to keep Americans safe.
Finally, we can't just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging.  Our medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more difficult to contain.  Trying to seal off an entire region of the world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation worse.  It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth.  Experience shows that it could also cause people in the affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the disease even harder to track.
So the United States will continue to help lead the global response in West Africa.  Because if we want to protect Americans from Ebola here at home, we have to end it over there.  And as our civilian and military personnel serve in the region, their safety and health will remain a top priority.
As I've said before, fighting this disease will take time.  Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America.  But we know how to wage this fight.  And if we take the steps that are necessary, if we're guided by the science-the facts, not fear-then I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak here in the United States, and we can continue to lead the world in this urgent effort.