Villar Response Transcript


Villar Response Transcript


VILLAR: [L]ater that month--we had the case in Dallas. We had [Thomas Eric] Duncan in Dallas, who was eventually admitted to the hospital, and then some nurses getting infected. I think we were making lots of great progress in West Africa and we had the president's support, and all the partners' support. Then Dallas happened, and that was tough. That was really intense, and we had to get people on the ground quickly. We had to try to message appropriately, which was tough. Texas is a complicated state, as are usually most states, but in particular in Texas. You have a city government, and county government, and state government. Working with the multiple levels of government and working obviously with the hospital, and trying to make sure that all of the providers were safe. Nurses to custodians, and everybody in the hospital, making sure people had proper protection. Making sure that our guidelines were updated. Making sure that we had staff to support Texas on the ground. It was a very, very complicated time and very, very busy. I mentioned before, I spent my entire weekend getting ready for the president--well, after that I spent all of my weekends dealing with the response both domestically and globally. I'll never forget all the meeting and calls, and then we had to ramp up the number of staff involved, and it went from the extremes of--I don't even know--updating our guidance for PPE [personal protective equipment] in hospitals to the very basic things of making sure that our staff at CDC who were working in an EOC [Emergency Operations Center] were being fed because they were working so hard and so many hours and weren't taking time to eat lunch or dinner, or breakfast for that matter. Many of them not seeing their families for days on end--those deployed, obviously, but those also working here who were going home for three or four hours at night to sleep, then coming back to work. It was a pretty intense time.

Q: How did you help to remedy that situation?

VILLAR: There were lots of different things that we did. We worked very closely with the CDC Foundation to buy some healthy food [laughter] for the EOC. Because it's really easy for people to pick up a candy bar. That kind of stuff. I remember walking through in the month of October and all you saw was Halloween candy everywhere. So we did that. We worked closely with the [CDC] Foundation, and that was even a tough sell at the time because the response was so critical, and what was happening in West Africa and here was so critical, that to be working with the Foundation and to be thinking that they would spend some of their donor money on food to feed people who were getting a paycheck and working for the federal government--that was not something people could really even get their heads around, but it was necessary in the end. We took up collections. We bought crates of apples, and we did all kinds of--I baked banana bread. I mean, whatever we could do to keep people going. It was a crazy time.


“Villar Response Transcript,” CDC Museum Digital Exhibits, accessed June 14, 2024,