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Obama discusses Ebola virus with Dallas mayor

President Obama called Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings from Air Force One to discuss the response to the first individual diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, the White House said Thursday.

“The President called to make sure the mayor was getting the resources he needed from the federal government, including the Centers for Disease Control, to treat the patient safely, and control this case so that it does not spread widely,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz said. 

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“The president pledged federal agencies will remain in close coordination and reiterated his confidence in America’s doctors and national health infrastructure to handle this case safely and effectively.”

Health officials are concerned that dozens of people might have had contact with either the patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, or individuals who had direct contact with him. Four individuals believed to be related to Duncan have been quarantined due to possible exposure, and local and federal health officials have faced tough questions over their handling of the case.

Earlier Thursday, Rawlings said journalists were “part of the problem” at a confrontational press conference in Texas.

“It is, at best, disorganized out there and we have some members of the press that are creating a bit more of that,” Rawlings said. “We need everybody to be professional.”

During that same news conference, Rawlings announced that an EMS crew and ambulance used to transport Duncan had been quarantined.

“We have quarantined both them and the unit itself to make sure that nothing was there that can be spread and we’re going about our protocol about how to do that,” said the mayor. “We’ve created an emergency center at Dallas City Hall that are going through those procedures right now. So we’re taking all precautions to make sure everybody’s safe.”

Schultz on Thursday declined to weigh in on whether he believed Duncan should face criminal charges after a Liberian official said he had lied on a form at the airport about his contact with the virus while in Africa.

The White House spokesman said the administration was primarily concerned that he be treated effectively and the virus be “stopped in its tracks.”