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President on Ebola in U.S.: ‘I’m confident we can prevent a serious outbreak’

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WASHINGTON, D.C.- President Barack Obama canceled a campaign trip at the last minute to stay in Washington and spearhead a more aggressive response to the Texas Ebola outbreak that has infected two nurses, one who traveled through Cleveland, and frightened Americans with the prospect that their health system is not equipped to handle a catastrophic medical event.

He said that monitoring of Ebola must be done in a "much more aggressive way." He continued, according to the pool report, to say that as soon as someone is diagnosed, the CDC must have a rapid response team immediately on site. The White House is taking this very seriously at the highest levels.

The president made the comments after a special meeting of his cabinet that was convened to address Ebola and came as one of the infected nurses was transported to special hospital facilities for care.

He said the CDC would deploy new SWAT teams within 24 hours to any hospital with an infected patient. He also promised that the federal government would review contacts made by infected people before they showed symptoms.

But he urged calm, repeating that Ebola is not easily spread if someone is not showing symptoms.

"Here's what we know about Ebola. It's not like the flu. It's not airborne," he said, adding that he had met, hugged and even kissed healthcare workers at Emory who had treated Ebola patients.

It was announced Wednesday morning that the second Dallas health care worker with Ebola, identified as Amber Vinson, was on a flight from Cleveland to Dallas on Monday — the day before she reported symptoms.

City of Cleveland authorities said she was not contagious when she was in Northeast Ohio.

However, in a letter from Frontier Airline CEO David Siegel to employees, it states Frontier was notified by the CDC that the passenger may have been symptomatic earlier than initially suspected; including the possibility of possessing symptoms while onboard the flight.

*CLICK HERE TO READ THE ENTIRE LETTER*

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Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:44 pm

President Obama: We have to make sure something like this is not repeated.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:45 pm

President Obama: I’ve directed the CDC- as soon as someone is diagnosed with Ebola- rapid response team needs to be on ground within 24 hours- taking the local hospital step by step on what needs to be done

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:46 pm

President Obama: These protocols work; they’ve been used for decades around the world. If they’re done properly, they work; we have to make sure local hospitals are walked through that process– the rapid response team can help with that.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:47 pm

President Obama: We are working carefully with the mayor of Dallas and governor of Texas… that in other cases are properly cared for

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:47 pm

President Obama: Ebola is not like the flu; you have to come in direct contact with bodily fluids of someone who is showing symptoms

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:50 pm

President Obama: We are going to be monitoring carefully the health status of other health care workers in Dallas and they’re concerned; we understand that many of them are scared.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:50 pm

President Obama: We are also going to be continuing our screening processes at airports.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:51 pm

President Obama: We are going to have to make sure that we do not lose sight of the importance of the international response to what is taking place. I’m confident that we can prevent a serious outbreak of the disease here in the U.S.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:52 pm

President Obama: We need to help get the raging epidemic in Africa under control.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:53 pm

President Obama: I want people to understand the dangers of an outbreak are extraordinarily low; but we have to take it seriously.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:53 pm

President Obama: I want everyone to be thinking about and praying for the two health care workers who have gotten sick.

Kara Sutyak October 15, 20145:54 pm

President Obama ends press conference.