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President Barack Obama Weekly Address October 18, 2014 (Video/Trascript )
President Barack Obama Weekly Address The White House October 18, 2014
Today, I want to take a few
minutes to speak with you-directly and clearly-about Ebola: what we're
doing about it, and what you need to know. Because meeting a public
health challenge like this isn't just a job for government. All of
us-citizens, leaders, the media-have a responsibility and a role to
play. This is a serious disease, but we can't give in to hysteria or
fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate
information they need. We have to be guided by the science. We have to
remember the basic facts.
First, what we're seeing
now is not an "outbreak" or an "epidemic" of Ebola in America. We're a
nation of more than 300 million people. To date, we've seen three cases
of Ebola diagnosed here-the man who contracted the disease in Liberia,
came here and sadly died; the two courageous nurses who were infected
while they were treating him. Our thoughts and our prayers are with
them, and we're doing everything we can to give them the best care
possible. Now, even
one infection is too many. At the same time, we have to keep this in
perspective. As our public health experts point out, every year
thousands of Americans die from the flu.
Second, Ebola is actually a
difficult disease to catch. It's not transmitted through the air like
the flu. You cannot get it from just riding on a plane or a bus. The
only way that a person can contract the disease is by coming into direct
contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is already showing
symptoms. I've met and hugged some of the doctors and nurses who've
treated Ebola patients. I've met with an Ebola patient who recovered,
right in the Oval Office. And I'm fine.
Third, 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.
And this week, at my
direction, we're stepping up our efforts. Additional CDC personnel are
on the scene in Dallas and Cleveland. We're working quickly to track
and monitor anyone who may have been in close contact with someone
showing symptoms. We're sharing lessons learned so other hospitals
don't repeat the mistakes that happened in Dallas. The CDC's new Ebola
rapid response teams will deploy quickly to help hospitals implement the
right protocols. New screening measures are now in place at airports
that receive nearly all passengers arriving from Liberia, Guinea and
Sierra Leone. And we'll continue to constantly review our measures, and
update them as needed, to make sure we're doing everything we can to
keep Americans safe.
Finally, we can't just cut
ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging. Our
medical experts tell us that the best way to stop this disease is to
stop it at its source-before it spreads even wider and becomes even more
difficult to contain. Trying to seal off an entire region of the
world-if that were even possible-could actually make the situation
worse. It would make it harder to move health workers and supplies back
and forth. Experience shows that it could also cause people in the
affected region to change their travel, to evade screening, and make the
disease even harder to track.
So the United States will
continue to help lead the global response in West Africa. Because if we
want to protect Americans from Ebola here at home, we have to end it
over there. And as our civilian and military personnel serve in the
region, their safety and health will remain a top priority.
As I've said before,
fighting this disease will take time. Before this is over, we may see
more isolated cases here in America. But 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.