CDC, Obama Under Fire For Ebola Containment Policies
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Chief Thomas Frieden faced criticism Thursday on Capitol Hill over handling of the Dallas Ebola cases. Meanwhile, the White House is feeling pressure to name an "Ebola czar" to coordinate the nation's response. Also, the idea of imposing travel restrictions is gaining momentum, while Ebola is also becoming a political flashpoint.
The Washington Post: CDC Director’s Challenge: Deadly Ebola Virus And Outbreak Of Criticism
Frieden, the 53-year-old doctor who for the past five years has served as director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is immersed in an epidemiological and political crisis. He has become the face of that crisis, and more than that, the voice. It’s a deep voice, sonorous, and he speaks slowly, deliberately, assuredly, and he declared at the end of September: “I have no doubt that we’ll stop this in its tracks in the U.S.” But his confident statements have had to compete with the onslaught of bad news, including the infection of two health-care workers in Dallas, and he is now on the defensive (Sun, Bernstein and Achenbach, 10/16).
Politico: CDC Chief Survives Trial By Fire On Hill
Tom Frieden is getting a lot of public scoldings for all of the missteps in the handling of the Dallas Ebola cases -- and there have been plenty of them. But so far, the criticisms don’t appear to be rising to the level where the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention needs to worry about his job. Frieden came through a three-hour House hearing Thursday with some bruises but also with his ability to function as director seemingly intact (Nather and Norman, 10/16).
The New York Times: Obama May Name ‘Czar’ To Oversee Ebola Response
President Obama raised the possibility on Thursday that he might appoint an “Ebola czar” to manage the government’s response to the deadly virus as anxiety grew over the air travel of an infected nurse. Schools closed in two states, hospitals and airlines kept employees home from work, and Americans debated how much they should worry about a disease that has captured national attention but has so far infected only three people here (Healy, Tavernise and Goodnough, 10/16).
Politico: Obama’s Ebola Challenge
The White House playbook for handling natural disasters is clear cut: Get the president in front of the cameras early, pledge every federal resource for the recovery, make a sympathetic visit to the devastated area and never pass up an opportunity to show who’s in charge. But the strategy for dealing with a deadly infectious disease that’s unlikely to turn into an epidemic yet is still terrifying to the public? Murky, at best (Budoff Brown and Epstein, 10/17).
The Washington Post: Ebola Presents Health, Political Challenges For Obama
Cognizant of the dangers that come from going before the public without answers, Obama has emphasized the low probability that the deadly disease will become a large-scale outbreak in the United States because it is not easily transmitted. But in the wake of acknowledged errors that led to the infections of two nurses in Dallas, the White House is now engulfed in a crisis that has resurrected questions about the president’s governing style. After meeting with top aides in the Oval Office for nearly two hours Thursday night, Obama sought to address some of the criticism lawmakers have lodged against him by saying he may appoint one person, or “czar,” to oversee the federal response. But he reiterated that Americans remain safe (Eilperin, 10/16).
NPR: Health Officials Face Ebola Questions On Capitol Hill
A day after news that a second health care worker in Texas has Ebola, members of Congress grilled Centers for Disease Control and Prevent Director Tom Frieden about the federal response (10/16).
The Washington Post: Congress Presses For Ebola Travel Ban
Members of Congress sharply questioned top public health officials Thursday about banning travel from West African countries where the Ebola virus is out of control to the United States, demanding to know why the administration has not adopted that tactic. “It’s not a drill,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), a member of the of the House Energy and Commerce oversight and investigations subcommittee, which held Thursday’s hearing. “People’s lives are at stake, and the response so far has been unacceptable” (Berman and Berstein, 10/16).
The Wall Street Journal: U.S. Ebola Response Is Slammed By Lawmakers
President Barack Obama , after a day of withering criticism over the government’s handling of the Ebola virus, said Thursday he may name a point person to oversee the administration’s response and is open to a travel ban but isn’t planning one. His evening remarks, which sought to show a more forceful response while assuring Americans they remain safe, were the first sign the White House could adopt ideas that Republican lawmakers have emphasized in ratcheting up their attacks this week. They have called for creating an Ebola czar and for travel restrictions from virus epicenters in West Africa (Armour and Lee, 10/16).
Politico: Why A Travel Ban Wouldn’t Work
The political momentum for a travel ban on West African nations continued to swell Thursday, but health and transportation experts were uniform in saying it wouldn’t stem the spread of Ebola — and could do more harm than good. That hasn’t stopped politicians and pundits -- ranging from House Speaker John Boehner to former Obama press secretary Jay Carney -- from calling for a travel ban. The appeal is obvious: It sounds like a no-brainer to build an infectious-disease moat around the U.S., blocking some flights and barring people who come from the countries suffering the worst Ebola outbreaks (Caygle and Wolfe, 10/16).
Los Angeles Times: Dallas Hospital Shifts Blame To CDC On Ebola Protocols
The hospital's response -- its second in two days -- in part shifted responsibility to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and to the protocols the agency issued this summer to guide the handling of a patient infected by the virus, which is thought to have killed more than 4,400 people in West Africa. The hospital said the protocols changed frequently, frustrating caregivers and management (Mohan, 10/16).
The New York Times: In Cities With West African Populations, Hospitals Take Extra Steps
Hospitals in cities with large West African populations are bracing for the first patients with Ebola, a prospect that no longer seems so far-fetched, ramping up screening, protections for hospital staff, and efforts to encourage people to report symptoms and take precautions (Belluck, 10/16).