Obama meets officials on Ebola response

Obama meets officials on Ebola response
© Getty Images

President Obama is meeting Monday afternoon with senior members of his administration for a briefing on U.S. efforts to combat Ebola after tests revealed a second case in Dallas.

The president was to be briefed on the nurse who contracted the deadly virus treating a Liberian man who had traveled to the U.S. and then began displaying symptoms of the disease.


Obama is also receiving an update on “broader efforts to ensure the preparedness of our national health infrastructure,” according to the White House.

The attendees at the meeting included Sylvia BurwellSylvia Mary Mathews BurwellThe biggest revelations from Fauci's inbox What a Biden administration should look like Bogeymen of the far left deserve a place in any Biden administration MORE, the secretary of the Health and Human Services Department; Susan Rice, Obama's national security adviser, and Lisa Monaco, the assistant to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), participated via telephone.

Frieden on Monday said a "relatively large" number of healthcare workers could be at risk for Ebola. Officials still do not know how the nurse in Dallas contracted the disease. She had been treating Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week.

Obama was briefed on the case Sunday by Monaco, who is the White House’s point person for the interagency Ebola response. 

He also spoke by phone with Burwell, who updated him on how the government was responding to the second Ebola case.

During that phone call, the president ordered the CDC to investigate how a second person was infected at the Dallas hospital and to ensure that agency personnel on the ground in Texas review safety procedures with hospital staffers there.

Obama also ordered federal authorities to “take immediate additional steps to ensure hospitals and healthcare providers nationwide are prepared to follow protocols should they encounter an Ebola patient,” the White House said.

Some lawmakers have called for Obama to step up the federal response as concerns mount. 

On Sunday, Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainMeghan McCain on Pelosi, McCarthy fight: 'I think they're all bad' Democrats seek to counter GOP attacks on gas prices Biden nominates Jeff Flake as ambassador to Turkey MORE (R-Ariz.) called on the president to establish an Ebola “czar” to oversee the U.S. response — despite his past criticism of the administration’s numerous policy czars.

“There has to be more reassurance,” McCain told CNN about public concerns that the virus could spread.

“I would say that we don't know exactly who's in charge," he added. "There has to be some kind of czar.”

— This story was first posted at 12:55 p.m. and has been updated.