Politics & Government

Obama said his administration will respond to Ebola in a ‘much more aggressive way’

President Barack Obama announced Wednesday that he will begin mobilizing "rapid response teams" to hospitals where Ebola patients are being treated as soon as possible, hopefully within 24 hours.

"We are taking this very seriously at the highest level of government," Obama said after convening a two-hour meeting with several top Cabinet members coordinating the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak. “And we are going to be able to manage this particular situation, but we have to look to the future.”

Obama also said the administration planned to thoroughly review the contacts made by the patient who initially brought the disease to the United States.

"What we've been doing here today is reviewing exactly what we know about what's happened in Dallas and how we are going to make sure something like this is not repeated. We are monitoring, supervising, overseeing in a much more aggressive way exactly what's happening,” he said.

Obama said residents need to be calm.

“Here's what we know about Ebola. It's not like the flu. It's not airborne," he said. He talked about shaking hands, hugging and even kissing healthcare workers at Emory who have dealt with the disease. "They knew what they were doing, and I felt completely safe."

Earlier, Obama urged world leaders to commit more resources to help battle the deadly Ebola outbreak that’s killed thousands in West Africa and has infected two healthcare workers in Texas.

Obama spoke with his British, French, German and Italian counterparts by video conference Wednesday to discuss the international response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa among other issues. He spoke with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan Tuesday night.

"The president does believe that we need to see more from the international community, that we have not seen a sufficient commitment of resources and personnel from other countries to dealing with this urgent situation in West Africa," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said."The stakes are high, and the impact on the local population there is tragic. And we need to see a more significant commitment of resources from countries around the world to dealing with this effort."

Earnest said even though CDC officials have indicated that they wish they had done some things differently, that the American public should remain confident in what he calls a “tenacious response.”

Obama’s remarks came after he canceled plans to travel to campaign events in New Jersey and Connecticut to convene a meeting of several top Cabinet members coordinating the government’s response to the Ebola outbreak.

Earnest said Obama called the meeting “to make sure that all of the needed resources of the federal government are being deployed to deal with this specific situation.”

Earnest said Obama was not able to host that meeting and travel at the same time.

“What we have always indicated is that the president of the United States is president wherever he goes, and that’s true 24/7,” he said. “But what’s also true is that if the president determines that it’s necessary for him to return to the White House to fulfill his responsibilities as the leader of the country and as the commander in chief, then he’ll alter his schedule accordingly.”