President Obama thanked health care professionals Wednesday for fighting Ebola on the front lines in West Africa, while criticizing officials who would put restrictions on these “heroes” who are helping secure the United States.
“The best way to protect Americans from Ebola is to stop the outbreak at its source,” Obama said in an East Room ceremony honoring doctors and nurses who have been or are going to West Africa.
“If we are not dealing with this problem there, it will come here,” Obama said.
Referring to unnamed state officials who want to confine or quarantine heath care workers, Obama decried “policies that would avoid leadership and have us running in the opposite direction and hiding under the covers … it makes me a little frustrated.”
The president lauded his guests for their “sense of duty,” and of “serving a cause greater than themselves.” He called them “shock troops” who should be applauded.
“And when they come home,” Obama said. “they deserve to be treated properly. They deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are.”
Obama and aides have criticized New Jersey, New York and Illinois over quarantine policies for returning workers.
These doctors and nurses can help explain the challenge of Ebola to Americans, and how to beat it. “We respond with common sense and skill and courage,” he said, and not “fear,” “hysteria” or “misinformation.”
While people’s concerns are understandable, Obama said, there is no reason for panic: “It’s critical that we remain focused on the facts and on the science.”