President Barack Obama delivers a statement to the press after a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government's Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Oct.15, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Wednesday October 15, 2014 - Today, a health care worker from Dallas was transferred to Emory University Hospital for treatment after contracting the Ebola virus while helping to treat Thomas Eric Duncan, the first patient to have the disease in the U.S.
After meeting with his Cabinet officials and Dr. Tom Frieden of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the President updated the country on our comprehensive strategy to contain the disease, prevent its spread in the U.S., and combat it at its source in West Africa.
"The dangers of a serious outbreak are extraordinarily low" in the U.S., the President said. "But we are taking this very seriously at the highest levels of government."
The purpose of the meeting was to review exactly what happened in Dallas and how we can make sure it is not repeated.
"We are monitoring, supervising, overseeing in a much more aggressive way exactly what has taken place in Dallas initially and making sure that the lessons learned are then transmitted to hospitals and clinics all across the country."
Here are the actions the President is putting into motion to ensure we effectively treat and prevent the spread of Ebola:
- The CDC will now send a rapid response team, a "swat team, essentially" to be on the ground within 24 hours as soon as someone is diagnosed with Ebola so the CDC can walk the local hospital through the protocols step-by-step. That includes use and disposal of protective equipment.
- We are communicating the lessons learned from the problems that occurred in Dallas to hospitals, clinics, and first-responders around the country on a ongoing and up-to-date basis.
- We are working carefully with the city of Dallas and the state of Texas to ensure that, in the event any other cases arise among health workers, they are properly cared for in a way that is consistent with public safety.
- We are "contact-tracing" to ensure that anyone who may have come into contact with the affected individuals are being monitored in a way to prevent the further spread of this disease.
- We will continue to monitor the health status of the other health care workers in Dallas.
- We will continue screening processes at airports and make sure teams are in place to transport suspected cases to specialized, secure hospitals if needed.
- We will continue to lead the international response in West Africa because "the investment we make in helping Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea deal with this problem is an investment in our own public health."
"This is not a situation in which, like a flu, the risks of a rapid spread of the disease are imminent," the President said. "If we do these protocols properly, if we follow the steps, if we get the information out, then the likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low."
Take a look at three key points that you need to know -- then share them with your friends and family so everyone has the facts about Ebola.
EBOLA CANNOT BE SPREAD THROUGH CASUAL CONTACT, AIR, WATER, OR FOOD IN THE U.S.
EBOLA CAN ONLY BE CONTRACTED THROUGH BODY FLUIDS, CONTAMINATED OBJECTS, OR INFECTED ANIMALS.
EBOLA CAN ONLY BE CONTRACTED FROM SOMEONE WHO IS SHOWING SYMPTOMS.
You should also read:
- Find out more about the transmission of Ebola, along with other frequently asked questions
- Get more information from the CDC on Ebola virus disease on topics including: transmission, diagnosis, signs and symptoms, treatment, risk of exposure, and prevention
- Watch a briefing by senior administration officials on the Ebola outbreak
- Stay up-to-date on the current Ebola outbreak by following @CDCemergency on Twitter