In his weekly radio address for October 18, the President spoke to the mounting international Ebola crisis raging at home and abroad. While saying he had it all under control here in the US, Obama insisted that no travel bans were in the offing because he didn’t want to “cut off” contact with West Africa.
Saying, “This is a serious disease,” Obama urged Americans not to “give in to hysteria or fear.” He went on to say, “that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need.” He continued saying “we need to be guided by the science” and said that we must remember “the basic facts.”
The president insisted that “what we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America.” With a nation of more than 300 million people, the president noted, we’ve only had three cases of the disease. “We have to keep this in perspective,” he said.
Obama also contended that, “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,” he said.
Obama informed listeners that he ordered additional CDC personnel to the scene in Dallas and Cleveland and said the “CDC’s new Ebola rapid response teams will deploy quickly to help hospitals implement the right protocols.”
He also said that new screening measures are now in place at the airports that receive nearly all passengers arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
That brought him to the subject of a travel ban, something he refused to accept.
“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging,” the president intoned.
“Trying to seal off an entire region of the world–if that were even possible–could actually make the situation worse,” he insisted before adding, “It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back and forth.”
It is strange that the president seems to be saying that a general travel ban must also ban special flights for supplies and medical aide. One might think that both a general travel ban and an allowance for special flights for aide could both be easily achieved.
Regardless, the president also warned that there may be many more cases inside the US before the virus is stamped out.
“Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America,” the president concluded. “But,” he said, “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.”
Follow Warner Todd Huston on Twitter @warnerthuston or email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.