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Rep. John Lewis on Ebola Crisis

The Ebola crisis in Africa is devastating.  Thousands of people have died, and thousands more are dying.  As members of the world community, we cannot shut our doors and turn a blind eye to the suffering of others. Closing our borders will not cut our connection with the rest of humanity. It does not change the fact that we live in a diverse, multicultural, international world where thousands of  individuals and professionals from all over the globe cross paths regularly.  It will not change the fact that a virus knows no boundaries, and the threat it presents will only be reduced when we confront the problem aggressively and stop it at its source.

The excellent treatment of American patients at Emory University hospital in close consultation with the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention demonstrates that Americans have important knowledge which could help end the crisis in Africa and any threat it poses to the community of nations. In Atlanta, up to this point, we have proved that the disease can be contained, that patients can recover, and medical teams can be kept safe if strict protocols are followed.  We must do what a humane and caring people do; offer aid, as President Obama has done, offer medical expertise and guidance, and do what we can to help stamp the problem out at its source.

In this situation, we all need to be guided by experts and the evidence of medical research and experience, not by the calls of politicians who want to make the suffering of others a political football in an election season.  We must not take action based on hysteria or fear.  We must allow rational  thinking and sound medical practice to guide our decisions.  However, there are policy questions that do need congressional attention.

Those of us in the Congress need to stand up and ensure that there are adequate appropriations for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institutes of Health, the Customs and Border Protections service and other agencies to be certain this nation has the capability to respond effectively to medical emergencies of this kind.  We must also move with all dispatch to help find a cure or a vaccine that can wipe out this dreadful disease.