Obama names Ebola ‘czar,’ beefs up Texas response

A young girl cries as her mother is taken away - Ebola crisis in Liberia
A young girl cries as her mother is taken away - Ebola crisis in Liberia

By Jeff Mason and Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama on Friday appointed a former White House adviser as U.S. Ebola “czar” and named senior officials to help step up the government’s response to the disease in Texas, where it first appeared on U.S. soil.

The U.S. moves came as the World Health Organization said the Ebola death toll in the West African nations of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone had topped 4,500 and a cruise ship was turned away from a Mexican port over Ebola fears.

Obama, facing criticism from some lawmakers over his administration’s efforts to contain the hemorrhagic virus, appointed Ron Klain, a lawyer who had served as chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, to oversee the U.S. response.

The White House also said it would send senior personnel to Dallas to help federal, state and local officials there trying to identify and monitor people who came in contact with three people who caught the disease.

The three include Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with the disease in the United States, and two nurses who were on the team of health workers caring for Duncan until his death last week.

Obama met with health and national security aides and “underscored that the domestic response to Ebola cases must be seamless at all levels,” the White House said in a statement.

It was the third consecutive day that Obama had convened officials to discuss what has become a major political issue for his Democratic administration ahead of mid-term elections next month.

The officials will include a Federal Emergency Management Agency coordinator, Kevin Hannes, and a White House liaison, Adrian Saenz, a presidential aide. Governor Rick Perry has named Texas emergency management chief W. Nim Kidd to coordinate the state Ebola effort, the White House said….READ MORE….