President Barack Obama gave another speech urging people to remain calm about the Ebola virus Wednesday afternoon that passionately pushed back against critics who argue the US is not doing enough to halt the spread of the disease.
“When I hear people talking about ‘American leadership’ and then are promoting policies that would avoid leadership, and have us running in the opposite direction, and hiding under the covers, it makes me a little frustrated,” Obama said.
The White House has faced a storm of criticism on its opposition to strict quarantine procedures for returning US aid workers and a travel ban on visitors from the Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Obama administration officials have repeatedly said such restrictions would discourage US healthcare professionals from providing aid to the West African nations that are the epicentre of the Ebola epidemic.
“The only way to ensure that we are safe is to make sure that we have dealt with the disease where right now it is most acute. So yes, we are likely to see a possible case elsewhere, outside of these countries, and that’s true whether you adopt a travel ban, whether or not you adopt a quarantine. It’s the nature of diseases,” Obama said Wednesday.
Standing next to a team of doctors and others who have worked with Ebola patients, Obama further said part of American leadership was defined by the US’ willingness to take “sacrifices” for the greater good.
“We’re at our best when we’re standing up and are taking responsibility — even when it requires us taking sacrifices. Especially when it requires us taking sacrifices,” he said.
Obama did not specifically name the numerous politicians and pundits who have accused the federal government of putting the public at risk. Prominent Republicans have called for a travel ban and some states — including New York and New Jersey — have implemented stricter policies for returning doctors and nurses from West Africa. However, the president suggested his critics were pushing back against the notion of treating US aid workers “like the heroes that they are.
“We got hundreds of Americans from across the country — nurses, doctors, public healthcare workers, soldiers, engineers, mechanics — who are putting themselves on the front line of this fight. They represent citizenship, and patriotism, and public service at its best,” Obama said. “When they come home, they deserve to be treated properly. They deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are.”
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