US Officials Optimistic About Fight Against Ebola

Despite challenges presented by unexpectedly wet terrain, Defense Department officials are “very optimistic” about the gains that have been made in the fight against Ebola in Africa. “In the 30 days that I’ve been here, I’ve seen great momentum,” Maj. Gen. Darryl Williams, Operation United Assistance Joint Task Force commander, told reporters during a Pentagon briefing Thursday. During the same press conference, US Ambassador to Liberia Deborah Malac said “isolating these countries is not the way to address the epidemic. We need to be able to get people and supplies and resources in.” Malac warned that a reduction in commercial flights and shipping into affected nations makes treating the epidemic more difficult. Williams said the US officials on the ground aiding with the assistance efforts are not at significant risk of contracting the virus. “Soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines are not in contact with folks that are inflicted with the Ebola virus,” Williams said. “And they’re not going to be.” US public health workers are the only ones who actually come in contact with infected people, he said. “We feel comfortable” with the force protection efforts, he said. “I would not say there’s no risk, but there’s risk that can be tampered down if you take the appropriate discipline and use the appropriate protocol that was established by CDC,” he added. (Williams/Malac transcript.)