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Senator: Ebola as serious as ISIS

By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
updated 1:48 PM EDT, Tue September 16, 2014

(CNN) -- While the Obama administration prepares immediate and long-term plans to attack ISIS, Sen. Lamar Alexander warned Tuesday that the deadly Ebola outbreak must be taken "as seriously as we take the threat of ISIS."

"This is one of the most deadly, explosive epidemics in modern times," the Tennessee Republican said on the Senate floor. "It moves rapidly. There is no vaccine, and there is no cure."

Nearly 5,000 people around the world have been infected with the virus, and more than 2,450 have died, according to the World Health Organization (PDF).

Alexander's plea comes as President Barack Obama was expected to announce that the U.S. will set up a central command center in Monrovia, Liberia, and send 3,000 military personnel to western Africa to address the epidemic. The Defense Department will set up centers to treat up to 1,700 people each. In addition, the President will ask Congress for an additional $88 million to help pay for the plan that is expected to cost at least $700 million.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, who often opposes Obama, was in agreement.

"I support these efforts to contain the Ebola epidemic and know that we will monitor this humanitarian crisis in the weeks ahead," McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on the Senate floor.

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