WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - President Barack Obama commended New Yorkers for their calm reaction to the city's first case of Ebola and told Americans in his weekly address that the response to domestic cases of the deadly disease needs to be based on "facts, not fear."
It was the second week in a row that Obama used his address to speak directly to Americans about the response to Ebola, which has turned into a political issue in the days leading up to Nov 4 congressional elections.
"We have to be guided by the facts, not fear," Obama said. "Yesterday, New Yorkers showed us the way. They did what they do every day: jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks," he said.
Obama praised the fast response by New York City officials in isolating and treating Dr Craig Spencer, a humanitarian aid worker who tested positive for Ebola on Thursday, the fourth person diagnosed with the virus in the United States.
Early mistakes treating a Liberian man who died of the disease in Dallas led to two nurses contracting Ebola, raising anxiety across the country. But Obama emphasized that officials around the country have since stepped up training and screening measures, and have the situation under control.
One of the Dallas nurses, Nina Pham, was released from hospital on Friday after successful treatment for disease, and the other nurse, Amber Vinson, is also doing well. "It's important to remember that of the seven Americans treated so far for Ebola - the five who contracted it in West Africa, plus the two nurses from Dallas - all seven have survived," Obama said.
He did not address new 21-day quarantines implemented late on Friday by New York and New Jersey for medical workers returning from Ebola hot zones. The administration is discussing similar measures. "We have been examining the protocols for protecting our brave health care workers, and, guided by the science, we'll continue to work with state and local officials to take the necessary steps to ensure the safety and health of the American people," Obama said.