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Ron Klain named U.S. Ebola czar

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(Bloomberg) — Former White House official Ron Klain will be chosen by President Barack Obama to coordinate the U.S. response to the deadly Ebola virus, a Senate Democratic aide said today.

Klain is former chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and to former Vice President Al Gore. The aide spoke on condition of anonymity because the decision hasn’t been made public.

Yesterday, Obama said he was open to choosing a czar to coordinate the U.S. domestic response toEbola as concern over health workers possibly carrying the deadly virus spread from planes to schools and cruise ships.

After the administration acknowledged lapses in handling the first U.S. cases, Obama said he’s mobilizing the federal government to contain any spread of the virus within the country’s borders. The key to stemming the outbreak is battling it in West Africa, he said. More than 4,400 people have died from Ebola this year, mostly in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

Republican lawmakers have criticized the response by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention after a Liberian man visiting Dallas died of Ebola last week and two nurses who treated him became the first people infected in the U.S. Some lawmakers have called on Obama to appoint a czar.

Klain, 53, has a long history in Democratic administrations. He was an associate White House counsel and chief of staff for Gore during the Clinton administration. After a hiatus in the private sector, he joined the Obama administration at the start of the president’s term as chief of staff for Biden.

Several lawmakers, including Arizona Republican Senator John McCain, had been calling on Obama to appoint a “czar” dedicated to curbing the virus’s spread.


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