President Obama is trying to lead by example as he works to calm public fears about Ebola in the U.S.
Obama has come into contact with more American Ebola patients, and the doctors and nurses who treated them, than just about any other American.
For weeks, the president has repeatedly assured the American people that the risks of a widespread outbreak are “very, very low.” To hammer home the point, the president has gone beyond words, to hugs, kisses, and hand-shakes.
“I want to use myself as an example, just so that people have a sense of the science here. I shook hands with, hugged and kissed not the doctors, but a couple of the nurses at Emory, because of the valiant work that they did in treating one of the patients. They followed the protocols, they knew what they were doing, and I felt perfectly safe doing so,” Obama told reporters last month.
From meeting with health care professionals who have come in close contact with the deadly virus to hugging survivors, Obama is using these images to show the public that his administration’s response to the Ebola crisis is working.
Obama greeted the first ever American Ebola patient, Dr. Kent Brantly, in the Oval Office less than a month after he was declared virus-free.
He then flew to Emory University Hospital to hug and kiss the nurses and doctors who treated Brantly.
In late September, Obama hosted at the White House leaders of Ebola “hot zone” countries and embraced a Liberian who contracted the disease.
Dr. Tom Frieden, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has toured the Ebola wards in West Africa, gets a prime seat next to Obama for Oval Office briefings.
The same day she was released from a high-level containment unit for Ebola treatment, nurse Nina Pham gave Obama a bear-hug in the Oval Office.
The public seems to be getting the message. The latest ABC News/Washington Post poll shows an 8-point increase in the president’s approval rating for his handling of the issue.
Still, reminders of the widespread fear of Ebola remain outside Obama’s front door.