National and state gov’t weigh in on Ebola response

BOSTON (WWLP) – Ebola has killed more than 4,500 people and those numbers continue to climb. In an effort to fight the deadly virus at its source, President Obama authorized sending military personnel to West Africa.

President Obama signed an executive order allowing the Pentagon to call on the National Guard and Reserves to respond to the Ebola outbreak in countries hardest hit: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 22News spoke with Westfield State Representative John Velis who is also a Captain in the US Army Reserves. He believes the military is top notch when it comes to technology and training.

“I’m not familiar specifically with the mission, but whatever they’re doing over there I’m sure it’s helping out the locals, you know, whether it’s medically, teaching them some of our training techniques,” said Rep. Velis.

Troops will not be aiding in health care, according to the White House. Instead, they are expected to build seventeen Ebola treatment centers, 100 beds each, to fight the virus head on.

Closer to home in Massachusetts, the legislature’s Public Health Committee called on emergency health experts to learn more about Ebola. Members asked whether a travel ban could protect Americans – a measure that President Obama opposes. Experts say a ban would do more harm than good.

“It would be not difficult for someone that really needs to get to the United States to somehow move around elsewhere in Africa, to Europe, then to the United States and a difficulty to control that flow,” said Chief of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital Dr. Michael VanRooyen.

Obama believes it is less likely for people to be honest about their travel history if a ban is in place, which would make it harder for health officials to prevent Ebola from spreading.

The US is expected to deploy upwards of 4,000 troops to West Africa in coming weeks. Massachusetts health officials maintain that an outbreak in the state is still highly unlikely.

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