Ebola: White House Raises Specter of Gov’t Closure During D.C. Africa Summit
Guest post by Kristinn Taylor
Credit: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Forbes)
The Obama administration is urging federal employees to stay home during the summit of African leaders being held in Washington, D.C. next week and to monitor local news for announcement of a possible “closing of the federal government” —ostensibly over traffic issues.
At the same time the administration said the federal government is taking no “additional precautions” to deal with the potential spread of the Ebola virus by those attending the summit.
In a twelve paragraph article on the summit of African leaders hosted by President Obama, the New York Times devotes five paragraphs to the issue of Ebola affecting the summit—an issue the Gateway Pundit has raised in several articles this week.
The Ebola death last week of Patrick Sawyer, a naturalized American citizen who was working for the government of his native Liberia raised worldwide fear as he was able to travel by passenger plane from Liberia to Nigeria with a layover in Togo on his way to an international conference without his condition being noted until he became seriously ill on approach to Lagos.
Leaders and government officials from Liberia as well as the other nations affected by Ebola—Guinea, Sierra Leone and Nigeria are expected to attend the D.C. summit.
From the Times:
“In an email to top officials at federal offices, the nation’s personnel chief urged agencies to let their workers stay at home during the event, which takes place next Tuesday and Wednesday. Traffic is also expected to be snarled on Monday and Thursday as the leaders arrive and leave.
““Agencies should consider encouraging employees who can be spared from their duties to request to adjust their work schedules,” Katherine Archuleta, the director of the Office of Personnel Management, wrote Friday in a memo.”
…”Ms. Archuleta wrote that for now the federal government would remain open Monday through Thursday next week, but she advised federal employees to monitor local news outlets for announcements about potential street closings, disruptions to public transportation or a closing of the federal government.”
…””We believe air travel continues to be safe, and the C.D.C. has stated there is no significant risk in the United States from the current Ebola outbreak,” Edward Price, a spokesman for the White House National Security Council, said in an email.”
…”A spokesman for the C.D.C. said procedures were already in place to stem the spread of Ebola, and flight crews and airline personnel will generally not allow a sick passenger to board a plane.
“The spokesman, Jason McDonald, said, “There are no plans or indications that we’re going to take any additional precautions with the leaders who are coming.””
The White House downplaying of the Ebola threat contradicted State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki who said Monday about the summit, “…we’re taking every precaution…”
State gatherings in our nation’s capital are highly orchestrated affairs and quite common. This event was announced by the White House in January. It is odd for the federal government to suddenly urge its employees to stay home during a normal work week and to be aware for a possible government shut down on short notice.