David Martosko: “US to send 3,000 troops to Ebola danger zone” -Daily Mail

Posted on :Sep 16, 2014

By: David Martosko

Daily Mail

September 16, 2014

The United States government is sending thousands of military troops to the west African nation of Liberia as part of the Obama administration’s Ebola virus-response strategy, the White House said late Monday night.

‘U.S. Africa Command will set up a Joint Force Command headquartered in Monrovia, Liberia, to provide regional command and control support to U.S. military activities and facilitate coordination with U.S. government and international relief efforts,’ a statement from the White House press office said.

‘A general from U.S. Army Africa, the Army component of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), will lead this effort, which will involve an estimated 3,000 U.S. forces.’

Liberia is the hardest-hit of the four west African nations that have confirmed Ebola cases, accounting for more than one-half of the fatalities. The others are Sierra Leone, Guinea and, to a lesser extent, Nigeria.
Even the littlest ones: Liberian Red Cross health workers wearing hazmat suits carry the body of a 18-month-old Ebola victim in Monrovia

 

Even the littlest ones: Liberian Red Cross health workers wearing hazmat suits carry the body of a 18-month-old Ebola victim in Monrovia

Even the littlest ones: Liberian Red Cross health workers wearing hazmat suits carry the body of a 18-month-old Ebola victim in Monrovia

AFRICOM is set to send 3,000 American military officers and enlisted personnel to Liberia soon

AFRICOM is set to send 3,000 American military officers and enlisted personnel to Liberia soon

Modern-day lepers: In Liberia, suspected Ebola patients like this man (right) are seen most days lying near busy streets -- with most people terrified of touching them

'National security': President Obama said during a recent NBC News interview that African Ebola might be a threat to the U.S. if it was not crushed out quickly, and allowed to mutate

State of the art: In America, the few known Ebola patients -- all of them flown home from Africa -- have been cared for in high-tech isolation pods like this one, shown during a biocontainment drill

Squalor: In Liberia, suspected Ebola patients often end up in the care of family members in conditions where poor sanitation and minimal medical care contribute to a township-wide downward spiral 

In a Sept. 7 interview on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ he called it a ‘national security priority.’

‘If we don’t make that effort now, and this spreads not just through Africa, but other parts of the world, there’s the prospect then that the virus mutates, it becomes more easily transmittable, and then it could be a serious danger to the United States,” said Obama.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest fielded questions Monday about the threat that a mutated Ebola virus could endanger the American population.

‘Right now,’ Earnest said, ‘the risk of an Ebola outbreak in the United States is very low. But that risk would only increase if there were not a robust response on the part of the United States.’

‘And that’s why the president – among other things – that’s one of the things that’s motivating the president to direct an aggressive response.’ 

Obama will visit the CDC in Atlanta on Tuesday for a situation update, and to give a public speech about the need to regard Africa’s public health crisis as a threat to the United States. 

Earnest’s office said Monday night that military engineers would be on hand in Liberia to build makeshift hospitals, and that the American government ‘will help recruit and organize medical personnel to staff them.’ 

The Pentagon has also committed to construct and staff at least one 25-bed ‘field-deployable hospital,’ in Liberia, but The Washington Post reported last week that it will treat only infected health care workers – not civilian victims of the outbreak.

Scary: LIberians have become accustomed to seeing hazmat-outfitted medics and burial workers in their neighborhoods, but American military troops will be an entirely different sight

The Ebola virus is spread through contact with bodily fluids, including blood, sweat and saliva. In some African cultures, preparing the dead for cremation involves physical contact with their remains -- something that has allowed the disease to spread quickly

The U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps will send 65 administrators, clinicians and support staff to run the facility.

That’s a change from a week ago, when Army Colonel Steve Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, told Reuters that the military would turn the field hospital over to the Liberian government after it was built.

‘No U.S. personnel right now will be providing patient care,’ Col. Warren said on Sept. 8. We are deploying the hospital facility, setting it up, stockpiling it. We’ll turn it over to the government of Liberia and then the DoD (Defense Department) personnel will depart,” he said.

The World Health Organization says the current Ebola Virus Disease outbreak, a form of hemorrhagic fever, has infected more than 4,900 west Africans and killed at least 2,400, mostly in Liberia.

The State Department purchased a shipment of 5,000 body bags for its USAID mission in Liberia last month. 

USAID is also procuring up to 160,000 hazmat suits for medical workers. The White House aid Monday night that USAID will soon airlift 130,000 of those ‘sets of personal protective equipment’ to health care workers in affected countries.

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