Monday, October 26, 2015

President Obama Addresses the Ebola Crisis

In this weekly address, President Obama addresses the Ebola crisis.  As we've come to expect from our Chief Executives, it's a perfectly crafted speech that addresses our major concerns. But the Population Health Blog doesn't think it goes far enough.  In its continuing quest to help Mr. Obama overcome his tanking approval ratings, the PHB changed a few words and modestly offers up a slightly edited version of the address.  It believe it speaks more forcefully to the issues at hand.....

PRESIDENT OBAMA: Hi everybody, this week, we remained focused on spinning a favorable White House narrative about Ebola. In Dallas, the natural history of the disease and basic isolation procedures limited spread of the disease to only two among the dozens of health care workers who had been in close contact with the first patient. Now, those two workers are two too many, which is why I've told the CDC that their calm and distant inertia is unacceptable.  As you know, that's my job.

The two nurses who contracted the disease in West Africa were thankfully released from the hospital. I was proud to welcome one of them to the Oval Office to give her a big hug and make sure plenty of photographs were taken.

And in Africa, the countries that did not wait for our help, Senegal and Nigeria, were declared free of Ebola.  Which is probably why New York City also decided to not wait on Washington DC. Local public health personnel there moved quickly to isolate the doctor who recently returned from West Africa. While we deployed one of our new CDC rapid response teams, I wonder what they'll learn from New York City's approach. Maybe a lot. And I’ve assured Governor Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio that they’ll have all the federal support they need as they go forward.  After all, I'm from big government and I'm here to help.

More broadly, this week we've continued to step up our use of words like "efforts" "outreach," "coordinate," and "integrate" across the country. New CDC outreach is helping hospitals coordinate and integrate training. The Defense Department’s new team of doctors, nurses and trainers will outreach, coordinate and integrate if called upon to help with coordination and integration and, you know, outreach and other efforts.

Now, rather than institute an unworkable travel ban, we now have a less unworkable travel measure that directs all travelers from the three affected countries in West Africa into five U.S. airports. Starting this week, these travelers will be required to report their temperatures and any symptoms on a daily basis—for 21 days until we’re mostly hopeful that they don’t have Ebola. Here at the White House, the lawyer I've appointed to coordinate and integrate the government's response will tell the doctors what to do and how to do it. And we have been examining the protocols for protecting our brave health care workers, and, guided by the science, we’ll continue to do everything we can to embarrass the Republican nutjobs who are also using Ebola for political gain.

In closing, I want to leave you with some basic facts. First, you cannot get Ebola easily through casual contact with someone. The only way you can get this disease is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of someone with symptoms. But, if you do get it, your internal organs could liquefy. That’s why health workers must wear total body condoms. That's the science. Those are the facts.

Here’s the bottom line. We can beat this disease. But we at the White House have to stay on message by repeatedly saying that we have to work together at every level—federal, state and local. And we have to give the impression that we're leading a global response, because West Africa is in a world of hurt right now along with other global hot spots like Syria and Ukraine and Hong Kong and Russia.

And we have to be guided by the science—we have to be guided by the facts, not fear. Yesterday, New Yorkers showed us the way. Despite the mainstream media's alarmist reporting, they did what they do every day—jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks, ignoring speeches like this and wondering why the Yankees aren't in the World Series.

That spirit—that determination to carry on—is part of what makes New York one of the great cities in the world. And that’s the spirit all of us can draw upon, as Americans, as we meet this challenge together.

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