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Obama And CDC Address New Reality Of Ebola Spreading Inside U.S.

President Tells Americans To “Man Up” And Accept Living With Ebola Since It Is Part Of Global Environment

By TRAVIS MOORE

Published October 3, 2014

 

In a statement made during a speech on the economy at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, President Obama admonished concerned citizens that they would need to “man up” with respect to the Ebola virus.

“You know, disease does not know boundaries,” he said. “Today we live in a global environment so Americans are just going to have to ‘man up’ and learn that they are no different from anybody else.”

Although the president's speech focused on venture capital opportunities in the Third World, he used it to address growing concerns about a Liberian visitor stricken with Ebola.

President Obama also stressed the importance of exposure to viral agents to boost immunity. “If we’re just sittin’ over here not getting exposed to anything, how’re we going to build any immunity?”

Centers for Disease Control director Dr. Tom Frieden – who previously stated that the disease was contained inside the U.S. – seemed to hedge his position on Thursday during a press briefing.  “In medicine, there is a saying that what does not kill you makes you stronger,” he said.  “It looks like that will be our experience with this little bug.” 

In trying to assuage fear that seems to be spreading, Frieden compared Ebola to the flu virus.  “Many decades ago, influenza was deadly until we built up some immunity,” Frieden said.  “So after our initial struggle with this new bug, we will one day be saying things like, ‘Oh, I think I got a touch of the Ebola coming on’ but it won’t be a big deal.”

Frieden announced a new flyer to be distributed at schools and published on the CDC’s website entitled “You Can Hack Ebola.”  The flyer is intended to educate the public after images of hazmat suits have created misperceptions about the disease.  “People should not get scared just because some of us wear hazmat suits,” Frieden said.  “I wear hazmat suits in a clinic setting all the time.”

Santa Marino College professor of microbiology Margaret Hoffman-Chu said that Ebola could have some unanticipated benefits if, indeed, it spreads in the U.S.  “Unless Ebola becomes de-stigmatized in the minds of Americans, their attitudes towards travelers from abroad could take a negative turn,” she said.