President Barack Obama’s Ebola czar Ron Klain will depart in March, the White House said Monday.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Klain is planning to leave because he originally came on board as a special government employee, which allows individuals to serve the government for 130 days. Klain’s 130 days expires at the beginning of March.
Obama tapped the former longtime top-level aide to coordinate the administration’s response to the Ebola virus. He is charged with protecting the American people by detecting, isolating and treating Ebola patients in this country without distracting from the aggressive commitment to stopping Ebola at the source in West Africa.
“There is no doubt we've made substantial progress against Ebola since Mr. Klain came on board,” Earnest told reporters. “We've made substantial progress in leveraging U.S. resources in West Africa to try to stop this Ebola outbreak in its tracks...We've also made important progress in enhancing the readiness of medical facilities here at home.”
When Klain came on board in October there were only three medical facilities in the United States prepped to treat an Ebola patient safely, Earnest said. Now, that number is now up to 35 hospitals nationwide.
Obama had been criticized for his response to Ebola in the United States -- specifically in terms of how prepared hospitals and health care workers have been for potential Ebola patients and failing to call a travel ban from West Africa.
Klain, an attorney, was serving as president of Case Holdings and general counsel of Revolution, an investment group, when he began the temporary job.
Earnest said the administration will reevaluate whether to have a second Ebola czar next year.
“The question that we'll have to answer is...will it require one individual to dedicate 100 percent of their time to focusing on this to continue the progress towards that goal?” he asked. “It's still an open question now about whether or not that will be required, and something I anticipate we'll discuss in run-up to early March next year.”