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President Obama Names Ebola “Czar” to Oversee Response

Global toll of outbreak tops 4,500

President Barack Obama has asked Ron Klain — former chief of staff to two Vice Presidents, Joe Biden and Al Gore — to coordinate the government’s response to Ebola. Klain will report to President Obama’s Homeland Security Advisor, Lisa Monaco, and his National Security Advisor, Susan Rice.

The White House said Klain has extensive experience in overseeing complex governmental operations and has good working relationships with leading members of Congress and senior administration officials. “Klain’s talent and managerial skill will be crucial in providing the resources and expertise we need to rapidly, cohesively, and effectively respond to Ebola at home and abroad,” the White House said in a brief statement.

Although the President has labeled the dangers of a serious U.S. outbreak “extraordinarily low,” he added, "we are taking this very seriously at the highest levels of government."

Klain, a lawyer, is the president of Case Holdings and general counsel at Revolution LLC, a technology-oriented venture capital firm based in Washington. He has served in all three branches of the federal government.

Klain worked for then-Senator Biden as Chief Counsel of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee and later served as Staff Director for the Senate Democratic Leadership Committees. In the executive branch, he served as Chief of Staff to Vice Presidents Gore and Biden and Attorney General Janet Reno, and as Associate Counsel to President Clinton in charge of judicial selection.

In other developments related to Ebola:

  • The global death toll from the disease has reached 4,546 since March, according to the World Health Organization. Most of the deceased were from three West African countries, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.
  • A Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital worker who may have had contact with specimens from now-deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan was quarantined on a cruise ship that left Sunday on a cruise from Galveston, Texas. The health worker has been self-monitoring since October 6 and has not developed a fever or other symptoms of Ebola. The worker and a companion have voluntarily isolated themselves in their cabin.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is expanding its search for people who may have been exposed to Amber Vinson (a nurse who treated Duncan) to include passengers on an airline flight she made to Cleveland, Ohio, in addition to those on her Monday return trip to Texas. Vinson flew Friday from Dallas to Cleveland on Frontier Airlines while running a slight fever, and the CDC says she may have been ill by then.

Sources: The White House; October 17, 2014; Reuters; October 17, 2014.

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