Obama ‘more optimistic’ about stopping Ebola

President Obama said Wednesday he is "cautiously more optimistic" about stopping Ebola in the United States as his new czar began his first day of work.

The president noted that dozens of individuals who had contact with the Liberian man who brought the virus to the U.S. had tested negative and said two nurses with confirmed infections "seem to be doing better."


He also noted that Nigeria and Senegal, two African nations near the center of the Ebola outbreak, were now free of the deadly disease.

"It gives you some sense that when it’s caught early and where the public health infrastructure operates effectively, this outbreak can be stopped," Obama said.

The president said he had spoken by phone with co-workers of the infected healthcare workers at Texas Presbyterian Hospital earlier in the day.

"Spirits were good," Obama said. "People were very proud of the work that they’ve done and understandably so, because, as I said before, when it comes to taking care of us and our families, nobody’s more important than the front-line health workers."

The president made the remarks after a meeting with Ron KlainRon KlainNew models for pandemic response can be found in existing agencies Biden sees Trump rematch as real possibility White House says Biden won't 'underestimate Trump' if he runs in 2024 MORE, the former chief of staff to Vice President Biden who has been tapped to lead the government's response to the virus.

The men met for more than an hour in the Oval Office with other senior administration officials to discuss the Ebola response, although the president did not mention Klain in his brief remarks.

Obama also spoke hours after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced it would monitor individuals who arrived from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea for three weeks after they arrived in the U.S. State and local health officials will contact passengers from those countries daily to see if they have begun exhibiting a fever or other possible symptoms of Ebola.

The president said the agency would "continue to put in place additional measures as they make sense in order to assure that we don’t see a continuing spread of this disease."

He also noted that the CDC has "refined" its guidelines for hospitals treating Ebola patients after the disease spread at the Dallas facility. He said he was confident "that over the course of several weeks and months" hospitals nationwide would be prepared to handle such cases.

"We’re going to systematically and steadily just make sure that every hospital has a plan, that they are displaying CDC information that has currently been provided so that they can take step-by-step precautions when they’re dealing with somebody who might have Ebola," Obama said.

Broadly, Obama said Americans should have "confidence that we’re going to be in a position to deal with any additional cases of Ebola that might crop up without it turning into an outbreak."

Earlier Wednesday, the White House said it still did not know if it would request additional Ebola funding from Congress, but that Klain would examine that issue as part of his portfolio.