President Obama announced details of his plan Tuesday to help contain the Ebola outbreak that has caused more than 2,400 deaths in West Africa. The strategy reportedly includes sending up to 3,000 military personnel to the region.
Obama spoke at the Atlanta headquarters of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Tuesday afternoon.
Update at 4:18 p.m. ET: ‘It Doesn’t Have To Be This Way’
The president describes “a major increase in our response.” Some details:
- A new military command center in Liberia, similar to what was created in Haiti.
- Creating an “air bridge” to speed up the rate of getting material and personnel into affected areas.
- Create training areas and send medical professionals from the U.S. to field hospitals.
He also called on other nations to follow through on the promises they’ve made to help, and he encouraged charities and philanthropists to remain involved.
The president closed his remarks by telling the story of a family that has been fractured by the viral disease, saying that some of its children are simply “waiting to die, right now.”
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” Obama said. And while he acknowledged that the situation will likely get worse before it improves, he also said that the world has a responsibility to act.
Update at 4:10 p.m. ET: ‘A Potential Threat To Global Security’
“Faced with this outbreak, the world is looking to us, the United States,” the president said.
“It’s spiraling out of control; it’s getting worse,” Obama said. He added that the number of people infected could grow exponentially.
That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands, the president said, saying the Ebola epidemic represents “a potential threat to global security.”
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The Obama administration’s plan reportedly includes having the Department of Defense shift $500 million in funding to fight the Ebola epidemic. That’s according to NPR’s Scott Horsley, who reports that the figure “includes engineering support to build 17 new treatment centers in Liberia, with room for 100 patients each, and a facility for training 500 front-line health care workers every week.”
The White House is warning that if the outbreak’s growth isn’t stopped now, the number of cases could reach into the hundreds of thousands.
Earlier today, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the Ebola crisis would be a point of emphasis in this week’s gathering of world leaders, with the Security Council slated to discuss Ebola on Thursday.
Ban “says this is not just a health crisis,” NPR’s Michele Kelemen reports, “but it also has economic, social and potentially political consequences. And he’s repeating his call on international airliners and shipping companies not to suspend services to countries that are trying to deal with Ebola outbreaks.”
“We cannot allow bans on travel or transport to slow us down,” Ban said. “We need isolation of people affected by Ebola — not of nations struggling to cope with it.”