President Obama has responded to calls that he shut off travel from West Africa amid the Ebola outbreak, saying it is not a reasonable solution and asking Americans not to give in to fear-mongering.
There has been a rising movement calling on Obama to place stricter travel restrictions from areas where the Ebola outbreak is spreading rapidly. At the same time, fears of an Ebola outbreak in America have also taken root, leading to a school district in Ohio closing for cleaning after possible exposure, and Dallas bus and train stations closing on Saturday over concerns about a woman who fell ill.
Obama tried to temper the fears, saying that the United States is nowhere near an outbreak.
“What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America,” he said. “This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear.”
Ebola hit the United States earlier this month when a Liberian man, Thomas Eric Duncan, traveled to the United States with the virus and later died in a Dallas hospital. Two nurses serving in the hospital later fell ill with Ebola.
The spread has led many to call on Obama to restrict the borders, and even blaming the president for allowing the virus to spread.
“I’m telling you, we should be marching in front of the White House and the Capitol. Everybody — Republicans, Democrats, independents… should be standing there in front of the White House with signs that say, ‘Stop! Stop air travel from West Africa,'” said conservative radio host Glenn Beck. “This is insane. It is going to be… the death of all of us if we don’t just use common sense. It’s not that hard to fix this!”
In his weekly address on Saturday, Obama also responded to those critics, saying it is not possible to stop all traffic from West African and would not help if they could.
“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa,” Obama said. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world, if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse,” he said.
Obama has also acted directly to calm Ebola fears. Earlier in the week, he visited a hospital in Atlanta where an Ebola patient had been treated, saying he “hugged and kissed” health care workers.