The Slatest

Obama Urges Against Ebola “Hysteria,” Says Travel Ban Could Make Things Worse

President Obama called for calm on Saturday, pushing back against those who say the government is losing its ability to keep tabs on the outbreak. As the New York Times reports the president is privately seething at what he sees as failures on multiple levels on how authorities have reacted to Ebola, Obama used his weekly address to try to put things in perspective. “This is a serious disease,” Obama said, “but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear—because that only makes it harder to get people the accurate information they need.”

Obama also made it clear he has no intention to give in to increasing demands from a few lawmakers to ban travelers from the worst-hit countries. “We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa, where this disease is raging,” Obama said. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world—if that were even possible—could actually make the situation worse.” (For what it’s worth, experts largely agree with the president on this one.) The president also made it clear it is important to keep in mind that only a couple of people have been effected inside the United States: “What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America.”

As he projects an image of calm though, he is feeling “a deepening frustration, even anger, with how the government has handled key elements of the response,” according to the Times. The president let those feelings show on Wednesday, saying in a meeting that the response was “not tight.” Obama has reportedly put much of the blame on the C.D.C. for its constantly shifting information and failing to adequately train doctors and nurses.