Rare Recess Hearing to Deal with Ebola Threat

With Ebola claiming more than 900 lives and a handful people in America receiving tests for the deadly virus, the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Africa is convening a hearing Thursday to examine the threat. 

“Around the country there is a heightened sense of concern. Hopefully we don’t go beyond the concern and containment is the key here,” Subcommittee Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) said during a C-SPAN interview Thursday morning. 

“We’re going to be talking about all things, including some of the potentially powerful drugs that might be able to overcome this horrific disease that just has such a high mortality rate,” he said, going on to add that the epidemic “is not even close to being over.”

Thursday afternoon’s hearing will feature Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, Assistant Administrator for Global Health at USAID Ariel Pablos-Méndez, and the State Department’s Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Bureau of African Affairs Bisa Williams. 

A second panel will testify before the subcommittee following the government officials. The Vice President of Program and Government Relations for Samaritan’s Purse Ken Isaacs and missionary Frank Glover are both scheduled to appear before the congressional panel. 

In announcing the hearing, Smith called the current situation “the worst outbreak of Ebola in history,” a sentiment echoed by one of the hearings witnesses this week. 

"This is the biggest and most complex Ebola outbreak in history," CNN quoted Frieden Wednesday. 

The most recent outbreak has been centered in the West African countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. To be sure, there have been Ebola scares in the United States, however to date there have been no confirmed cases of the disease in the U.S. 

The CDC however, has declined to identify to Breitbart News what states have seen patients tested for the disease. 

Wednesday, President Obama downplayed concerns somewhat after a U.S.-Africa Summit which saw two African leaders decline an invitation to Washington, D.C. in order to deal with the outbreaks. 

“What we do know is that the Ebola virus, both currently and in the past, is controllable if you have a strong public health infrastructure in place,” Obama said at a post-summit press conference. 

“Despite, obviously, the extraordinary pain and hardship of the families and persons who have been affected and despite the fact that we have to take this very seriously, it is important to remind ourselves this is not an airborne disease,” Obama added. “This is one that can be controlled and contained very effectively if we use the right protocols.”


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