October 20, 10:12 a.m.
New Standards for Protective Gear
The CDC will soon release stricter standards for personal protective gear for American hospital workers handling suspected Ebola patients.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said this weekend that the new rules will require full-body suits that leave no skin exposed, as well as a "site manager" to oversee workers as they don and remove gear.
The earlier rules allowed for some degree of variation between hospitals and were designed for field work in Africa. "So there were parts about that protocol that left vulnerability, parts of the skin that were open," Fauci told the AP.
Healthcare workers will also have to practice getting in and out of the protective gear.
October 20, 9:14 a.m.
Texas Contacts Reach the End of Their Quarantine
Sunday marked the end of the 21-day observation period for most of those who came into contact with Thomas Duncan, the first Ebola patient to be diagnosed in the United States. If patients go three weeks without showing symptoms, they can generally be declared free of the virus. Meanwhile, Senegal and Nigeria have both been declared Ebola-free by WHO, as their outbreaks have been contained. Read more...
October 17, 2:00 p.m.
White House Describes Ron Klain as 'Implementation Expert'
Understandably, the White House is not calling Ron Klain a "czar." Officially, Klain will be known as the "Ebola response coordinator," press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Friday.
"As far as I'm concerned, you can call him anything you want. We call him the Ebola response coordinator," Earnest said.
President Obama appointed Klain, a former chief of staff to two vice presidents, to oversee the government's response to the outbreak in West Africa and the virus's spread in the United States. Republicans have already criticized the pick, noting that Klain has no medical or public health expertise. Earnest quipped that it was a "shocking development" that GOP lawmakers would oppose a presidential decision three weeks before an election.
More seriously, Earnest said Obama was not looking for an "Ebola expert" but an "implementation expert" who could guide a whole-of-government response to the crisis. He cited Klain's experience, while working for Vice President Biden, in coordinating the implementation of the 2009 economic stimulus package.
"We think he is exceedingly well-suited to the task," Earnest said. "His area of expertise is in implementation, and that is exactly what is needed."
Klain is not on the job yet, but he will start soon.
On the question of a travel ban, Earnest continued to argue against the policy change, saying it could produce a "perverse" effect by incentivizing travelers from West Africa to seek other ways into the country. Governor Rick Perry of Texas joined other Republicans in calling for tighter restrictions on Friday.