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Obama, Perry Discuss Next Steps on Ebola

During a phone call Friday, President Obama congratulated Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials on reaching a major milestone in the state's fight against Ebola.

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During a phone call Friday, President Obama congratulated Gov. Rick Perry and other Texas officials on reaching a major milestone in the state's fight against Ebola.

In addition to Perry, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins and David Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services, participated in the call with the president.

This year, the first Ebola diagnosis in the country occurred in Dallas. The patient, Thomas Eric Duncan, who had traveled to Texas from Liberia, died in early October. Two nurses who treated him later tested positive for the virus. They have subsequently been declared Ebola-free. 

There were 177 individuals being monitored for potentially having come into contact with Duncan or the nurses. The last of them was officially cleared on Friday. A nurse who returned from abroad remains under personal quarantine in Texas, though her case is unrelated to the others.

In an interview, Perry said he notified Obama of a summit that Lakey was hosting next week with other leaders of southern state health departments with the intention of having "a very candid conversation" about infectious diseases, including Ebola, and preparing recommendations for the federal government. The governor said he hoped Ron Klain, Obama's recently appointed Ebola response coordinator, would participate in such conversations.

Perry said he asked the president what help the states could provide to troops being sent to Ebola-stricken regions of West Africa, though there was not much to be said on the topic.

"He said love on them and let them know how much you appreciate what they’re doing," Perry said.

The group also discussed the need to improve the protocols put out by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for dealing with cases of Ebola and other infectious diseases, Perry said.

He also noted that his alma mater, Texas A&M University, through its Center for Innovation in Advanced Development and Manufacturing, is prepared to begin manufacturing experimental Ebola vaccines and treatments as soon as federal officials give it the green light.

Perry said that when talked turned to ZMapp, an experimental drug used to treat one of the nurses who contracted the virus from Duncan, he was "pretty impressed" with Obama's knowledge of the issues and processes surrounding the vaccine and the treatment of the disease.

Disclosure: Texas A&M University is a corporate sponsor of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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