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Ebola Outbreak


The Ebola outbreak in West Africa and the subsequent cases of infection here in the United States have raised a tremendous amount of concern, fear and confusion. There’s no doubt that the threat to our nation’s public health is real. There’s also no denying that the United States is better prepared than any other nation to address this challenge here at home and provide medical infrastructure, knowledge and aid to the people of West Africa.


Since this crisis began, my staff and I have been monitoring the situation and focused on determining what would be the best course of action for the country to take. The events of the past few weeks – with the arrival of an infected individual into the United States and then the subsequent infection of now two health care personnel – make it clear that current procedures and execution of our nation’s prevention and response systems have been inadequate.


In response, the White House announced last week that the president has appointed a new "czar" to head up the government's efforts to combat the spread of Ebola. Sadly, he chose a political operative rather than a health care expert to lead his administration’s response to an outbreak of a deadly disease.


Meanwhile, we have called for every agency involved, as well as health care personnel across the country, to put in place procedures to determine where a breakdown in protection and prevention could occur and do what is necessary to mitigate future failures. Part of that effort ought to focus on a plan to deny entry to those traveling from the nations where this outbreak began and introducing a period of quarantine for those suspected of having been exposed to this deadly disease.


Ultimately, the best way to slow and eventually halt the spread of Ebola is to build up the capacity in West Africa to defeat this outbreak at its source. The United States is playing the leading role in an international effort to solve this crisis. As we apply our expertise and capabilities abroad, we need to ensure we are asking the tough questions and making the necessary corrections here at home to protect the American people.