PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Lights, camera, action. There was plenty of that at the Capitol as Congressman Tim Murphy called members of his House Oversight Committee back from their recess to meet about the Ebola crisis.
“By underestimating both the severity of the danger and overstating the ability of our health care system to handle Ebola cases, mistakes have been made,” said Murphy.
Murphy summoned some of the government’s top medical officials to testify on Ebola.
“Our top priority, our focus is to work 24/7 to protect Americans, that’s our mission,” said Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC.
But Murphy questioned the lack of firm standards on travel.
“This is what happened with the nurse who went to Cleveland,” he said. “So, I’m concerned here. Is this going to be your maintaining position of the administration that there will be no travel restrictions?”
“We will consider any option to better protect Americans,” said Frieden.
One dramatic moment was an apology from the Texas hospital where Thomas Eric Duncan died.
“We did not correctly diagnose his symptoms as those of Ebola, and we are deeply sorry,” Dr. David Varga, of Dallas Health Services, said.
In an exclusive interview with KDKA after the hearing, Murphy contrasted that apology with the words of others.
“He acknowledged that they made a lot of mistakes and that was important,” said Murphy. “I think the American people appreciate that honesty, anybody should. And anybody who is a medical treatment team should be able to announce when they made a mistake. I don’t hear similar things coming out of the CDC. They keep saying we’re following these protocols, yet they’re evolving, they’re changing and I think they need to stop and think.”
Murphy says he will continue to press the administration for changes.
After the hearing, he sent the president a list of nine measures that he says will protect public health, including a ban on nonessential travel from West Africa.
Murphy joined the “KDKA Morning News” to discuss the outline of the hearing before it happened.
Murphy is the chairman of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and planned to ask CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden why, in Murphy’s opinion, so many missteps have been made in handling Ebola in the United States.
He says that while the threat of a major outbreak is minimal, better steps need to be taken to control it.
“Let’s face it; Ebola is a deadly disease, worst outbreak in history. It’s growing by about 10,000 (new cases) a week in Africa. We have to focus and keep it from growing in the United States,” Murphy said.