President Obama hugged and kissed hospital workers at Emory University who had treated Ebola patients, in an attempt to calm fears that the virus could spread in the United States.
Obama warned that the risk of a widespread Ebola outbreak in the United States is “extraordinarily low” for the average American. He noted that the virus is not spread like the flu, which can travel through sneezes or coughs, but instead requires direct contact with the bodily fluid of someone with the disease.
The president noted that he even came into direct contact with Atlanta hospital workers who treated Ebola patients.
“I shook hands with, hugged and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory, because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so,” he said.
At the same time, Obama noted that the United States is taking the virus seriously, and announced that he created what he called “SWAT teams” from the CDC that can be rapidly deployed to any hospital that reports a case of the disease. Obama also called for an international response to stop the rapid spread in the three countries hit hardest — Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.
“Stopping the Ebola virus there will ultimately protect the United States,” Obama added.
“I am absolutely confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak of the disease here in the United States, but it becomes more difficult to do so if this epidemic of Ebola rages out of control in west Africa,” Obama said. “If it does, then it will spread globally in an age of frequent travel and the kind of constant interactions that people have across borders.”
But many have pointed fingers at Obama, with many blaming his administration’s response for failing to contain the Ebola virus at a Dallas hospital where the first American was killed.