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Obama pledges money and military personnel to nations struck by Ebola

The United States will offer 3,000 troops and financial help to health care systems in West Africa that are overwhelmed by Ebola. President Obama announced that U.S. forces will build new treatment facilities, airlift hundreds of thousands of home health kits and train and treat health care workers. Meanwhile, the WHO predicts that infections will double every three weeks. Judy Woodruff reports.

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  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The United States military is joining the fight to stop the spread of Ebola in Africa.  President Obama laid out a plan today to send 3,000 troops, amid increasingly dire forecasts of the epidemic’s potential to grow even worse.

  • PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA:

    If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The president traveled to Atlanta this afternoon and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to announce the ramped-up American effort.

  • BARACK OBAMA:

    And our forces are going to bring their expertise in command-and-control, in logistics, in engineering.  And our Department of Defense is better at that, our armed services are better at that than any organization on earth.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The focus is on helping overwhelmed local health care systems across West Africa.  Under the president’s plan, U.S. forces will build 17 new treatment facilities in the region, each with 100 beds.

    The U.S. military is also establishing an instruction facility to train up to 500 medical workers a week, deploying 65 officers to staff a hospital for treating health care workers, and airlifting hundreds of thousands of home health kits to the affected nations.

    While the president laid out that plan, top federal health officials appeared at a Senate hearing on the Ebola threat.

  • DR. BETH BELL, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention:

    There is a window of opportunity to control the spread of this disease, but that window is closing.  If we do not act now to stop Ebola, we could be dealing with it for years to come, affecting larger areas of Africa.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In all, the virus has infected nearly 5,000 people across five countries and left more than half dead.

    In Geneva today, the World Health Organization issued a stark new warning.

  • DR. BRUCE AYLWARD, Assistant Director General, World Health Organization:

    With 5,000 now infected, twice the number when we met a couple of weeks ago, over 2,500 dead, nearly twice the number of when we met a couple of weeks ago, you start to get a sense of the rapid escalation now we’re seeing of the virus at it moves from what was a linear increase in cases to now almost an exponential increase in cases.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    The grim forecast envisions the number of cases doubling every three weeks.  And from medical supplies to health worker salaries to burial costs, the WHO estimates it will take nearly $1 billion to contain the outbreak.  That’s a nearly 10-fold increase from a month ago.

  • DR. DAVID NABARRO, UN Coordinator for Ebola:

    The reason for that is the outbreak in last months has doubled in size.  And we realize, because it’s going to go on doubling in that sort of frequency if we don’t deal with it, the amounts requested have increased dramatically.

  • JUDY WOODRUFF:

    In addition to the U.S. response, China today dispatched a mobile laboratory and 59 medical experts to Sierra Leone to help speed up testing.

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