President Barack Obama again sought to reassure Americans there would not be an Ebola outbreak in the United States, but acknowledged the one instance has caused alarm.
Dr. Tom Frieden (L), director of the Centers for Disease Control, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey (2L), and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell (2R), listen as President Barack Obama makes a statement to the press after a meeting in the Roosevelt Room of the White House October 6, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama met with the national security team and senior staff on stopping the outbreak of Ebola. (BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)
“We have learned some lessons, though, in terms of what happened in Dallas,” Obama said Monday after meeting at the White House with his national security team. “We don’t have a lot of margin for error. The procedures and protocols that are put in place must be followed.”
The president said there would be increased passenger screenings in the United States and in West Africa in response to a question from the press. Participants also discussed options to enhance airport screening in the United States and the need to tackle Ebola at its source in West Africa
“We’re also going to be working on protocols to do additional passenger screening, both at the source and here in the United States,” Obama said. “All of these things make me confident that here in the United States, at least, the chances of an outbreak, of an epidemic here are extraordinarily low.”
Some have pressured the administration to restrict incoming flights from the African countries where there has been an Ebola outbreak, but the administration has opposed an outright travel ban.
“One of the things that we discussed today was how we could make sure that we’re spreading the word across hospitals, clinics, any place where a patient might first come in contact with a medical worker to make sure that they know what to look out for, and they’re putting in place the protocols and following those protocols strictly,” Obama added.
The meeting included Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, National Security Advisor Susan Rice and others.
Obama again criticized other nations, saying the United States can’t carry the entire load of fighting a global problem.
“I’ll be very honest with you -- although we have seen great interest on the part of the international community, we have not seen other countries step up as aggressively as they need to,” Obama said. “We’ve got some small countries that are punching above their weight on this, but we’ve got some large countries that aren’t doing enough.”