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Ebola ‘Czar’ Urges Congress To Authorize Emergency Funding

National News Tribune News Service

Ebola ‘Czar’ Urges Congress To Authorize Emergency Funding

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By Matt Hansen, Tribune Washington Bureau (TNS)

WASHINGTON — The Ebola outbreak can only be successfully contained if the U.S. takes the lead and provides funding to fight the deadly virus at home and in West Africa, the man tapped to coordinate the federal government’s response to the disease said Friday.

“In this case, America has to lead, and it has led,” said Ron Klain, the nation’s Ebola “czar,” reiterating the administration’s appeal for more money from Congress to fight the disease.

Klain called on lawmakers to pass an emergency spending request put forth by President Barack Obama that would authorize $6.18 billion for domestic readiness as well as efforts on the ground in West Africa. Of that amount, $1.54 billion would be used as reserve funding in case of a resurgence of the disease or a worsening outbreak in the United States.

Klain said that though U.S. efforts have had an effect in fighting the outbreak, dedicated funds need to be set aside for recurrences, even as public attention in this country has drifted from the threat.

“No one, a year ago, had Ebola response in their budgets,” he said during a talk at Georgetown University alongside Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institutes of Health. “Those resources are running out. The only way we can keep up the response — let alone expand it — is to get this emergency funding request.”

Both men said that in addition to stopping the current outbreak, increased funding could have a significant effect on devastated health care systems in West Africa and other parts of the world where insufficient or nonexistent health care can exacerbate the spread of disease.

“If something good comes out of this, it is a realization that if you do not have a minimum modicum of health care infrastructure, how vulnerable you are to so many things,” Fauci said.

More than 17,000 people are now infected with Ebola in West Africa, according to the World Health Organization, and more than 6,000 people have died. Though cases have slowed in Liberia, they have jumped in neighboring Sierra Leone and moderately increased in Guinea, the WHO said.

Klain noted the deaths of other patients from medical complications, including malaria, because doctors have been overwhelmed by the Ebola outbreak.

The federal government’s response to the epidemic accelerated after a Liberian man visiting the United States became the first person to die of the disease in this country. Later, two nurses who treated the man were hospitalized with the virus, but they recovered. Since then, an American doctor returning from Guinea has also recovered from the virus, but a surgeon from Sierra Leone who was transferred to an American hospital has died.

Klain, who has been criticized by Republicans for his lack of medical experience, said he was tapped for the job because of his experience handling complicated projects involving multiple government agencies. He said the Ebola response was particularly challenging because it involved multiple layers of government, including state departments of health and local hospitals.

“I never feel as un-czar-y as when I’m trying to deal with this complicated patchwork of federal, state and local systems,” he told the audience.

Five U.S. airports that handle much of the incoming traffic from Ebola-stricken countries now screen for the virus, and state health departments have established 21-day monitoring programs for travelers returning from West Africa. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that 35 hospitals across the country have established Ebola treatment wings, saying that 80 percent of returned travelers at risk for Ebola infection now live within 200 miles of a designated hospital.

More than 3,000 U.S. personnel are also active in West Africa, focused on building treatment centers and conducting training and testing.

Fauci said the public’s response to the disease has calmed as more information about the nature of the outbreak was made available. He said it reminded him of the panic over HIV/AIDS in earlier decades, when he was a lead researcher into the disease.

“Fear is a raw emotion,” he said. “I saw it in spades in the HIV/AIDS epidemic. We go through risks every day of our lives … but you don’t like a new risk even if you are living with many, many risks.”

AFP Photo/Chip Somedevilla

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14 Comments

  1. Independent1 December 5, 2014

    No RWNJ Trolls here fear mongering about how everyone is going to get Ebola??
    What happened with all these immigrants crossing our southern border with Ebola??
    What about all the Ebola that Obama was supposed to have been intentionally importing into the U.S. that was part of “This Week in Crazy” a few weeks back??

    I’m certainly not trying to make light or trying to downplay the potential danger of Ebola. But fear mongering, the normal strategy of GOP lovers, never helped anything. In fact, most times, fear mongering makes matters worse because people panic and do stupid things in their panic.

    One thing I hope most Americans have noticed over the past month or so, is that Ebola is usually not fatal if it’s diagnosed and treated early enough. Everyone who was diagnosed with it early on in the U.S. has ended up being cleared of the virus.

    It was unfortunate that the patient who died first in Texas apparently went to a hospital (religious based) that did not receive federal funds, so they felt comfortable in discharging him even though he had come to them feeling like it was an emergency with a high fever and had told the hospital that he had just come back from West Africa where Ebola was rampant. Unfortunately, it was 3 days later that they readmitted him too late to save him. And I believe even the 2nd person that died had ignored the symptoms thinking he may have contracted Malaria – when unfortunately it was Ebola- he too, had waited too long for treatment.

    Let’s hope at some point that Republicans start to realize that there are some things worth more than MONEY – like being alive!! It’s unfortunate that most conservatives TODAY seem to have totally misguided priorities!!

    Reply
    1. clcman December 6, 2014

      If I remember correctly, ISIS was in the process of deploying Ebola-infected agents to infiltrate the southern border (using information they got from the Bengazi incident to) where it would spread like wildfire thanks to Obamacare destroying the nation’s health infrastructure, but then the Republicans won the Senate and so they gave up on it. ISIS, I mean, not the Republicans who figured all this out.
      See? Voting DOES accomplish things!

      Reply
      1. Allan Richardson December 6, 2014

        I hope what you wrote is sarcasm. From some people, it would be straight faced repetition of the sincere beliefs they have been programmed to hold.

        If you were being sarcastic, good job!

        Reply
        1. silas1898 December 6, 2014

          I vote for sarcastic, but it’s so hard to tell the difference sometimes.

          Reply
          1. clcman December 7, 2014

            I was going for sarcastic. I guess it is kind of hard to tell sometimes around here…

            Reply
      2. Independent1 December 6, 2014

        You mean, a GOP legislator concocted the story about ISIS being in the process of infiltrating our southern border using some Ebola-infected agents. It was never anything that our intelligence people picked up as being fact. It was just one more Republican fabrication!! As is normal for them!!!

        Reply
        1. silas1898 December 6, 2014

          Probably a staffer cooked up this delicious piece of fiction. A GOP legislator wouldn’t be that clever.

          Reply
        2. clcman December 7, 2014

          Yes, that is another (less fun but more accurate) way of phrasing it.

          Reply
    2. silas1898 December 6, 2014

      Based on the orgasm of fear 2 months ago, we should all be dead by now with ISIS eating our surviving pets.

      Reply
      1. Independent1 December 6, 2014

        Sadly, creating fear among the populace seems to be one of the GOP’s favorite pre-election staples. Before about every election – the GOP puts their fear-mongering into high gear.

        Reply
        1. silas1898 December 6, 2014

          And it works for them.

          Maybe the Democrats could figure this out.

          Reply
          1. Independent1 December 6, 2014

            Yeah! but the Dems would need to be careful on how they might do that. Given the low turnout of the 2014 election (the lowest in 72 years), it could be that even a good chunk of Republicans are being turned off by the GOP’s continuing fear-mongering, conspiracy theory and other extremist tactics of some GOP legislators.

            Keep in mind that even with Republicans, only about 50% of them turned out for this latest election. And although the GOP won a bunch of Senate seats, all the seats they won were in Red States – and they won those seats with the votes of only 18% of registered voters (13% of all voter age Americans) – the Dems got almost 17%. Few if any of the GOP victories were by a large margin; in fact a number went to recounts.

            And aside from the Senate seats they won, and that they did take over some additional governorships, for the most part, they didn’t win much additional control of the legislatures in the states that they won governorships – in fact, the Dems actually took over control of the legislature in the Red State of Indiana.

            In addition to that, the Dems actually strengthened their control of the legislatures in the Blue States holding elections, in fact, in Oregonm where almost 70% of voters turned out, the Dems now control virtually every political office in the state. And not only that, but virtually every ballot measure that was included in the election, went the way that Democrats wanted to see them go – EVERY SINGLE ONE.

            So the 2014 election wasn’t really all that great for the GOP. In fact, a GOP columnist for a Houston paper, thinks the election was a disaster for the GOP.

            If you’re interested in that, check out this link:

            GOP Columnist: The VERY Bad News FOR THE GOP in the GOP’s Midterm Victory

            http://www.dailykos.com/story/2014/11/20/1346224/-GOP-Columnist-The-VERY-Bad-News-FOR-THE-GOP-in-the-GOP-s-Midterm-Victory?detail=email

            Reply
  2. bobnstuff December 6, 2014

    We were saved by the election. Since the republicans took the senate everything has gotten better. Ebola is gone and those kids at the borders have all gone home, It’s a miracle.

    Reply
  3. Steven Meeks December 6, 2014

    We should also keep in mind that the likes of Gen. Bill Odom predicted that the 2003 Iraq invasion would be one of the greatest strategic disasters in US history.

    Reply

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