The person in charge of coordinating the government's reaction to the Ebola virus is White House Homeland Security Advisor Lisa Monaco, Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters Tuesday.
The White House was pressed over the weekend by Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., to name an Ebola "czar" even though he had previously criticized a proliferation of "czars" in the administration. Earnest didn't go so far as to call Monaco a czar, but said she's in charge of coordinating reaction.
"Lisa Monaco is the president's Homeland Security adviser, and she is the one that, from here at the White House, continues to play the role of coordinating the efforts of all of those agencies. But ultimately, each of those agencies understands exactly what they're responsible for, and they have experts in this field that can ensure the American people remain safe," Earnest said. There's a veritable alphabet soup of government agencies in involved, from the Department of Defense to the Centers for Disease Control.
"We've got DOD and USAID and even CDC personnel that are on the ground in West Africa to try to attack this outbreak at the source," Earnest noted. "They're all performing different functions, but they're all critical to the success of attacking this outbreak in West Africa. That is the only way that we'll entirely eliminate the risk to the American people is by stopping this outbreak at the source.
"And then you've also seen the Department of Homeland Security and their work with their partners to put in place these screening measures, both in West Africa in the midst of a transportation system and that — and that five airports here in this country to also, you know, further protect the American public."
Further pressed on the lack of a czar, Earnest again noted that "the inter-agency coordination effort is something that is being monitored and run — very capably, I might add — by Lisa Monaco."
The individual agencies though, "are all principally responsible" for fulfilling their own tasks, Earnest said.
Earnest was also asked if the president continues to have confidence in Tom Frieden the director of the CDC.
"He does. And Dr. Frieden is — you know, is a pre-eminent physician, somebody that has a lot of experience, not just in the medical profession, but also in the field of public health. And he is somebody who, in the last few months here has been working almost around the clock to ensure that our response is commensurate with the challenge that is posed here."
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