United States Government Response
In September 2014, the American people were on edge about Ebola. In response to the global public health and humanitarian crisis and to domestic concerns, on September 16, 2014, President Barack Obama announced major government resources to support efforts to control and prevent Ebola in West Africa and in the U.S. In August, CDC had elevated its Emergency Operations Center (EOC) to Level 1—its highest level—and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) had organized a Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to oversee planning, operations and logistics. After President Obama’s announcement, both agencies were positioned to further ramp up their responses.
In the above photo, President Barack Obama is seen delivering a statement to the press after meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response, in the Cabinet Room of the White House on October 15, 2014. Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC Director, is participating from Atlanta via teleconferencing.
USAID coordinated the broad U.S. response, managing operations and logistics with its Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) overseeing disaster response. CDC oversaw the public health response and provided technical assistance. U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Health and Human Services, including the National Institutes of Health and the Food and Drug Administration, were integrated into the response.
On December 16, 2014, President Obama signed into law an appropriations act that allocated $5.4 billion in emergency funding to support the U.S. government’s response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa. This was the largest-ever U.S. government response to a global health crisis.
The following oral history is by Carmen Villar, the current Chief of Staff at CDC. In this oral history, Villar shares the meeting that she and other organization members had with former President Barack Obama.
Deborah Malac, the U.S. ambassador to Liberia during the Ebola epidemic, discusses the atmosphere of hope after President Obama announced the U.S. military would get involved in the Ebola response.