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Ebola czar's first few days on the job involve…phone calls and meetings

FILE- In this Oct. 22, 2014, file photo, reporters take notes as Ebola coordinator Ron Klain listens to President Barack Obama speak to the media about the government’s Ebola response in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington. New federal Ebola response squads are being readied to rus to an U.S. city where a new Ebola case might be identified, officials said. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File) AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File\n

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Friday that the first few days on the job for Ebola czar Ron Klain has involved lots and lots of meetings.

"He is somebody who has been convening meetings and regularly working closely with officials at the CDC and HHS as they have put in place some of the protocols that have been announced over the course of this week," Earnest said, referring to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services.

Ebola coordinator Ron Klain has been on the job three days, and is involved in many meetings and phone calls, according to the White House. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin, File)

"He also was in touch with New York officials last night and over the course of today to ensure that the state and local officials were feeling the kind of support that they're receiving from the Obama administration as they deal with this latest Ebola case," Earnest said.

Those discussions were the result of a new Ebola case in New York from a doctor with the group Doctors Without Borders.

Earnest said Klain would travel to Atlanta next week to meet with CDC officials there.

Republicans have criticized President Barack Obama for picking Klain to coordinate the government's response, in part because Klain is a lawyer and Democratic campaign operative. Some have said the choice shows Obama is treating the problem like a political issue instead of a medical issue.

Earlier in the day, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked an HHS official why she wasn't picked to coordinate the response instead of a lawyer like Klain. Assistant secretary of HHS for preparedness and response Dr. Nicole Lurie said the job is a government coordination role, and that a doctor is not needed to fill the position.

Gowdy, unsatisfied, asked Lurie to list Klain's medical experience, and when she listed nothing, he said he would take her answer to mean "he has none."

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