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Obama: Response to Ebola must be guided by "facts, not fear"

For the second week in a row, President Obama used his weekly address on Saturday to reassure Americans about Ebola, saying the U.S. must "be guided by facts, not fear" as it responds to the virus.

He commended the city and state of New York for moving "quickly to isolate and care" for the patient who was diagnosed Thursday in Manhattan, and he praised New Yorkers themselves for responding calmly to the diagnosis.

"They did what they do every day -- jumping on buses, riding the subway, crowding into elevators, heading into work, gathering in parks," he said. "That spirit, that determination to carry on, is part of what makes New York one of the great cities in the world. And that's the spirit all of us can draw upon, as Americans, as we meet this challenge together."

Mr. Obama outlined the government's ongoing response to the virus, mentioning the new travel screenings for people coming to the U.S. from West Africa, where the outbreak continues to rage, and the " new CDC guidelines and outreach" designed to help medical providers prepare for any potential cases. He said his designated Ebola response coordinator, Ron Klain, is "working to ensure a seamless response across the federal government."

The president also noted that every American who has been treated for the virus thus far has recovered. "It's important to remember that of the seven Americans treated so far for Ebola -- the five who contracted it in West Africa, plus the two nurses from Dallas -- all seven have survived," he said. "Let me say that again: seven Americans treated; all seven survived."

"Sadly," a Liberian man treated for the virus in the U.S., Thomas Eric Duncan, "did not survive," the president said, "and we continue to keep his family in our prayers"

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U.S. President Barack Obama hugs Dallas nurse Nina Pham at the Oval Office in Washington, October 24, 2014.
Reuters

One of the two nurses infected with Ebola, Nina Pham, was officially cleared of the virus on Friday. After she was released from the hospital, she visited the White House, and Mr. Obama said he was "proud to welcome her to the Oval Office and give her a big hug." He added that the other nurse, Amber Vinson, "continues to improve as well."

The "bottom line," he said, is that "patients can beat this disease, and we can beat this disease, but we have to stay vigilant." He nodded at the importance of the global response to the outbreak in West Africa, stressing, "The best way to stop this disease, the best way to keep Americans safe, is to stop it at its source."

In the weekly Republican address on Saturday, Texas congressional candidate Will Hurd urged Americans to bring "new energy" to Congress in November's midterm elections, saying "America doesn't need more politicians who vote in lock step with the president."

Hurd said the administration can't be trusted to grow the economy, secure the borders, or even "provide basic services to our veterans." And he criticized the lawmakers who helped the president pass his health care reform law.

"The president expects you to go to the polls and stick with the people who have stuck with him," he said. "But don't we want representatives who vote with us?"