Washington, Oct 17 – President Barack Obama said Thursday night that it “may be appropriate” for him to appoint a czar to lead his administration’s response to Ebola. “It may make sense for us to have one person … so that after this initial surge of activity, we can have a more regular process just to make sure that we’re crossing all the T’s and dotting all the I’s going forward,” Obama said.
His comments to reporters in the Oval Office came after a meeting Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden, Homeland Security adviser Lisa Monaco and others. Obama pointed to those two as the leaders of the U.S. response to Ebola so far. He said they’ve done an “outstanding job” so far, but that with flu season coming and Homeland Security officials also involved in combatting ISIS, “they also are responsible for a whole bunch of other stuff.”
Obama also said he has no “philosophical objection” to a ban on travel between West Africa and the United States. But said that doing so could make it tougher to determine whether passengers entering the United States from elsewhere had recently visited the region that’s at the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak. He said a “flat-out travel ban is not the way to go” and that it’s less effective than other steps the United States has already taken.
Some lawmakers have clamored in recent days for a travel ban, arguing that the United States should be able to track international passengers from the origins of their flights. “You ought to look at at least immediately suspending visas for non-U.S. nationals,” GOP Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana told Obama administration officials at a House committee hearing Thursday.