Story by the Associated Press; curated by Oliver Darcy.
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Barack Obama vowed Wednesday that his administration would provide "much more aggressive" monitoring of Ebola cases in the United States and warned that in an age of frequent travel the disease could spread globally if the world doesn't respond to the "raging epidemic in West Africa."
Dr. Thomas Frieden, Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is seen on a TV monitor as cabinet members and others listen while US President Barack Obama makes a statement for the press after a meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House October 15, 2014 in Washington, DC. Obama canceled campaign and fundraising travel for Democrats to attend the meeting about Ebola after a second case of the decease was contracted inside the United States. (AFP PHOTO/Brendan SMIALOWSKI)
In his most urgent comments on the spread of the disease, Obama also sought to ease growing anxiety and fears in the U.S. in the aftermath of a second nurse being diagnosed with Ebola after treating a patient in a Dallas hospital. He said he had directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to step up its response to new cases.
"We want a rapid response team, a SWAT team essentially, from the CDC to be on the ground as quickly as possible, hopefully within 24 hours, so that they are taking the local hospital step by step though what needs to be done," he said.
Obama: As soon as someone is diagnosed with Ebola, we want a “rapid response team, a SWAT team” from the CDC deployed to the site.— TheBlazeNOW (@TheBlazeNOW) October 15, 2014
Obama spoke after cancelling a political campaign trip to convene a session of top Cabinet officials involved in the Ebola response both in the U.S. and in the West African region where the disease has been spreading at alarming rates.
Participants in the meeting were a roster of Cabinet secretaries and top Obama advisers, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Eric Holder, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey.
Hours before Obama canceled his trip, officials confirmed that a second nurse at a Dallas had tested positive for the virus after treating an Ebola patient who later died. The disclosure raised new fears regarding the exposure by other health care workers. Officials also revealed that the nurse was on a commercial flight the evening before being diagnosed.
Obama: "I shook hand with, hugged, and kissed … a couple nurses at Emory because of the valiant work they did treating one of the patients."— TheBlazeNOW (@TheBlazeNOW) October 15, 2014
Obama says he is “absolutely confident” Ebola outbreak can be avoided in the U.S.— TheBlazeNOW (@TheBlazeNOW) October 15, 2014
Obama on Ebola in the U.S.: The “dangers of an outbreak” are “extraordinarily low.”— TheBlazeNOW (@TheBlazeNOW) October 15, 2014
The Texas developments added a new domestic element to what has developed into an Ebola crisis in the West African countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. Obama has been pressing the international community to step up its assistance in combating the disease.
On Wednesday, Obama spoke by phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President François Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. The White House said Obama stressed that the world must provide the finances and personnel needed "to bend the curve of the epidemic" and said it amounts to a "human tragedy as well as a threat to international security."
He made a similar case to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, the White House said.