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Obama: 'I Shook Hands with, Hugged, and Kissed...a Couple of Nurses' at Ebola Hospital

By Craig Bannister | October 15, 2014 | 10:29pm EDT

Today, Pres. Obama addressed the case of the second health care worker to be diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Amber Joy Vinson, by saying he has so much faith in the protocols followed by hospital health care workers that he hugged and kissed them.

Vinson is being transported to Emory Hospital in Atlanta, where three previous Ebola patients have been treated, two of whom were released in August. The third was admitted in September.

Speaking in the White House Cabinet Room, Obama said he "felt perfectly safe" hugging, kissing and shaking hands with the Emory nurses:

"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 prefaced his claim by saying the government's CDC and HHS health care professionals are employing "contact tracing" to ensure that Ebola does not spread in the U.S., and he wanted to use himself as an example of how, if proper protocols are followed, even physical contact with others can be safe:

"In addition, we are working very carefully with the Mayor of Dallas, the Governor of Texas and others to make sure that in the event any other cases arise from these health workers, that they are properly cared for in a way that is consistent with public safety.

"I know that people are concerned about the fact that the second health care worker had traveled. Here's what we know about Ebola: That it is not like the flu. It is not airborne. The only way that a person can contract Ebola is by coming into direct contact with the bodily fluids of somebody who is showing symptoms. In other words, if they don't have symptoms, they're not contagious.

"What we are able to do, however, is to do what's called contact tracing, so that anybody who may have had contact with someone -- even if it was incidental contact, even if they weren't showing symptoms -- being able to identify who those individuals are and make sure that they are then being monitored in a way that allows us to make certain that the disease does not spread further. And that's currently taking place in a very aggressive process conducted by the CDC, HHS, and the rest of our teams.

"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."

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