Obama to officials: Don't react out of 'fears' of Ebola

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Story highlights

  • Obama said the United States shouldn't put "another barrier" on medical workers who treat Ebola patients in Africa
  • His comments were a veiled shot at the governors of New Jersey and New York
  • Those governors announced mandatory quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa
President Barack Obama took veiled shots at New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday for ordering quarantines for medical workers returning to the United States after "doing God's work" treating Ebola patients in West Africa.
Obama told reporters on the White House's South Lawn that he had spoken by phone with Amber Vinson, a Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola while treating a patient but was discharged from Emory University Hospital on Tuesday after doctors declared her free of the virus.
He said he'll meet with health workers who have returned from West Africa on Wednesday, and that American officials should not "just react based on our fears" by imposing policies that discourage more workers from volunteering in the region that is the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak.
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"We don't want to do things that aren't based on science and best practices," Obama said, "because if we do, then we're just putting another barrier on somebody who's already doing important work on our behalf."
Christie and Cuomo have faced pressure from the administration in recent days over their state policies mandating quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa after treating Ebola patients. Obama ignored a reporter's shouted question about whether he has spoken to Christie this week.
"This disease can be contained," Obama said. "It will be defeated. Progress is possible. But we're gonna have to stay vigilant, and we've got to make sure that we're working together."
Obama said different rules apply, though, for military personnel who have been deployed to West Africa. The Army has imposed a 21-day quarantine on returning troops, and White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that the Pentagon will decide soon whether that policy will apply to the entire military.
"We don't expect to have similar rules for our military as we do for our civilians," Obama said.