WASHINGTON — The White House is conceding that there were shortcomings in the response to an Ebola patient's care in Texas that ended up with two health care workers testing positive for the disease.
White House spokesman Josh Earnest noted that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden had declared that even one health care worker being exposed was unacceptable.
"So that is an indication that there were shortcomings," Earnest said. He also said, "It's not clear what protocols were in place and how those protocols were implemented."
Signaling new urgency, President Barack Obama canceled his political travel Wednesday to meet with his Cabinet on the Ebola outbreak and the new developments in Texas.
"We're operating in a pretty dynamic environment right now," Earnest said, adding that the administration was addressing the situation in a "tenacious" manner.
Obama called off a planned trip to New Jersey and Connecticut. Instead, he will convene Cabinet officials coordinating the government's Ebola response at the White House. He will speak to reporters at the end of that meeting.
The change comes as a second health worker in Dallas who provided care for the first Ebola patient diagnosed in the U.S. has tested positive for the disease. The two health care workers were infected after treating a Liberian man who died of Ebola last week.
Obama had planned to speak at a fundraiser for Senate Democrats in Union, New Jersey, and then headline a rally for Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy.
Frieden also revealed that the second health care worker took a flight from Cleveland to the Dallas area. Frieden says the health care worker traveled to Ohio before she knew that the first nurse had been diagnosed. She was undergoing self-monitoring at the time.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, called on Obama to appoint a single administration official to coordinate the U.S. Ebola strategy and said the second infected health care worker "demonstrates why our government must be more proactive in the fight to prevent the spread of Ebola."
Asked if Obama was considering appointing an Ebola "czar" as Portman suggested, Earnest said the current response is well coordinated and involves various agencies responsible for different aspects of the administration's actions.