The United States now has an official Ebola czar. Ron Klain, a former chief of staff for Al Gore and Joe Biden (portrayed by Kevin Spacey in the HBO film Recount), was appointed by President Obama to oversee the government’s Ebola response, according to an announcement made this morning. Klain is a well-known figure in Washington, famed for his ability to handle political crises, however, he’s held some prominent position in the tech industry, as well, most recently acting as president of former AOL CEO Steve Case’s Case Holdings, and general counsel of Case’s investment fund Revolution LLC, which he helped launch in 2005.
During his time in the Vice President’s office, Klain advised President Obama on the controversial Solyndra deal, in which the White House offered a loan to the struggling solar company and touted its strength and promise, only to see it collapse less than six months later. According to news reports, Klain was confident in Solyndra’s eventual success, writing in an email to Obama aide Valerie Jarrett, “Sounds like there are some risk factors here–but that’s true of any innovative company that POTUS would visit.” Klain’s new role will be to manage the administration’s response to the ongoing Ebola epidemic, an enormous managerial challenge.
In a separate announcement, Secretary of State John Kerry pledged that the United States would devote an additional $1 billion to the fight against Ebola, and construct 17 more mobile treatment centers in West Africa.
Recent news has not been entirely positive, however. An internal World Health Organization (WHO) memo leaked to the Associated Press today says “nearly everyone” at the WHO failed to anticipate the extent of this year’s Ebola outbreak, and an article published yesterday in the Annals of Internal Medicine questions the ability of conventional medical facilities to adequately prevent the disease’s spread. (Depending on your taste, Entertainment Weekly‘s story confirming that Ridley Scott is moving forward with a TV series based on Richard Preston’s 1994 book The Hot Zone could be either good or bad.)
Ron Klain: Hope you’re ready for this.