WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama urged Americans on Saturday not to succumb to hysteria about Ebola, even as he warned that addressing the deadly virus would require citizens, government leaders and the media to all pitch in.
In his weekly radio and Internet address, Obama also pushed back against calls for the U.S. to institute a travel ban. Lawmakers have called it a common-sense step to prevent more people with Ebola from entering the U.S., but Obama said such a ban would only hamper aid efforts and screening measures.
“Trying to seal off an entire region of the world – if that were even possible – could actually make the situation worse,” Obama said.
Growing U.S. concern about Ebola and the three cases diagnosed so far in Dallas prompted Obama on Friday to tap a former top White House adviser to be his point person on Ebola. Striking a careful balance, Obama said there’s no “outbreak” or “epidemic” of Ebola in the U.S., but said even one case is too many.
“This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear-because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need,” Obama said. “We have to be guided by the science.”
As Obama sought to reassure anxious Americans, U.S. officials were still working to contain the fallout from the Ebola cases identified in the U.S. so far, rushing to cut off potential routes of infection for those who may have come into contact with individuals who contracted Ebola. Obama said he was “absolutely confident” the U.S. could prevent a serious outbreak at home – if it continues to elevate facts over fear.
“Fighting this disease will take time,” Obama said. “Before this is over, we may see more isolated cases here in America. But we know how to wage this fight.”