Originally published September 18 2014
Obama to send 3,000 troops into Ebola hot zone
by J. D. Heyes
(NaturalNews) As the Ebola virus spreads throughout West Africa, President Obama has just done something which almost guarantees that it will spread to the United States: He has ordered 3,000 U.S. troops into the Ebola hot zone.
In what the White House is describing as a more comprehensive response to the crisis, the president says the additional personnel will be an expansion of both military and medical resources.
The New York Times reported that Obama plans to move beyond a pledge by the Pentagon to establish a 25-bed portable hospital in Liberia, one of the three West African nations hardest-hit by the current outbreak, which is the worst in the history of the disease.
Obama will offer additional aid to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf "in the construction of as many as 17 Ebola treatment centers in the region," the Times reported, adding that senior administration officials said the Defense Department would also establish a joint command operation in Liberia's capital of Monrovia, "to coordinate the international effort to combat the disease."
The Pentagon also plans to provide military engineers who will help build additional treatment facilities, as well as send enough personnel to train as many as 500 additional healthcare workers per week to handle the rapidly expanding crisis.
In all, at least 3,000 additional military personnel will be sent to West Africa, the Times reported, where they will take care of responding to the current outbreak.
More personnel will likely be sent in the near future
"We all recognize that this is such an extraordinary, serious epidemic," one senior administration official told reporters, who spoke on the condition of anonymity ahead of Obama's formal announcement.
The administration said its effort is aimed at turning the tide of the outbreak from one of high-transmission rates that is growing exponentially. The Times added:
The White House plan would increase the number of doctors and other health care workers being sent to West Africa from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other American agencies, officials said.
Washington also plans to provide 400,000 Ebola home health and treatment kits to Liberia, along with tens of thousands of kits that are designed to test people for the disease. In addition, the Pentagon plans to provide some logistical gear for healthcare workers traveling to West Africa, as well as what administration officials described as "command and control" assistance to help coordinate and organize all relief assistance.
Included in Pentagon personnel tapped for the mission is the Army Corps of Engineers, which will assist in the construction of the 17 treatment centers. The administration was unsure when the centers would be built in Liberia, the Times reported; officials in the stricken country, along with international aid officials, have said that 1,000 more hospital beds are needed in Liberia alone in the next several days just to contain the disease.
'It's not enough'
And it is into this sort of situation that Obama has now ordered U.S. military personnel, but it is being criticized by some in the U.S. as not enough.
Dr. Michael T. Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, praised the Obama plan as a good first step, "but it is clearly not enough," he said.
He said the focus on Liberia was far too limited and that the administration should put more U.S. personnel in harm's way in Sierra Leone and Guinea, where the disease with a mortality rate of more than 50 percent has also spread.
"We should see all of West Africa now as one big outbreak," Dr. Osterholm said. "It's very clear we have to deal with all the areas with Ebola. If the U.S. is not able or not going to do it, that's all the more reason to say the rest of the world has to do it."
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