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House Panel Sets Ebola Hearing Next Week

By    |   Friday, 03 October 2014 08:34 PM

A panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Friday that top Obama administration officials will testify at a hearing next week on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis.

"The Ebola outbreak is a global public health issue that demands an all-hands-on-deck response," said Michigan GOP Rep. Fred Upton, the committee's chairman. "We cannot afford to look back and say we could have done more

"The United States has a first-class healthcare system, and we will do everything necessary to treat the sick, contain the threat, and protect the public health."

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Instutite of Allergy and Infectious Disease at the National Institutes of Health, will testify at the hearing on Thursday.

The session will be held before the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, which is chaired by Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Tim Murphy.

Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell has also been asked to appear before the panel.

"As the Ebola outbreak becomes a growing public health concern here in the U.S., the Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing all aspects of the federal response," Murphy said. "Our goal is to ensure every step necessary is being taken to contain and prevent the spread of this disease and protect public health."

News of the hearing came as Burwell and other administration officials sought to assure Americans that little chance existed of an Ebola outbreak in the United States.

"We need to get the information out because there is a lot of fear," Fauci said at a news conference at the White House. "Our healthcare infrastructure in the United States is well-equipped to stop Ebola in its tracks."

Lisa Monaco, one of President Barack Obama's top homeland security advisers, said that the United States was not considering a travel ban to stop people from coming here from the hardest-hit West African countries.

Instead, she said, efforts were being focused on identifying high-risk individuals before they leave the outbreak zone, which include Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Dozens and dozens of people have been stopped from getting on flights in the region, Monaco said.

"The most effective way to go about controlling this is to prevent those individuals from getting on a plane in the first place," she said.

The first person diagnosed with Ebola in the nation, Thomas Eric Duncan, went to a Dallas hospital last week but was mistakenly sent home, despite revealing he was visiting from Liberia, before returning by ambulance days later.

Texas officials now are monitoring 50 people, 10 of whom they consider at high risk, who came into the contact with Duncan. Four have been quarantined, and health officials have had problems getting rid of the infectious waste left in the apartment where he stayed.

"There were things that did not go the way they should have in Dallas," Fauci acknowledged. "But there were a lot of things that went right and are going right."

In addition, two patients are being hospitalized for Ebola-like symptoms in the Washington area.

Republicans stepped up their calls for the White House to ban West African flights — with Tennessee Rep. Marsha Blackburn saying that a ban was critical for halting the spread of the disease in this country.

"I remain very concerned," she said in a statement after meeting with Frieden. She dismissed the CDC director's claim that any travel ban would "backfire" against the United States.

"Unfortunately, his comments simply do not reflect the gravity of the situation," Blackburn said. "More must be done.

"It's clear that reviewing the current travel protocols needs to be part of the discussion," said the six-term congresswoman, the vice chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee.

"Nothing should be ruled out as we work together to contain this outbreak and protect public health and safety at home and abroad. This is a matter of great public importance.

"It is time for the administration to take decisive action to protect the American people and ensure we are secure from infectious disease," Blackburn said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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A panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee said on Friday that top Obama administration officials will testify at a hearing next week on the U.S. response to the Ebola crisis.
house, ebola, hearings, response
Friday, 03 October 2014 08:34 PM
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