Tom Frieden

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Tom Frieden
Thomas Frieden official CDC portrait.jpg
Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
In office
June 8, 2009 - Present
Elections and appointments
NominatedMay 15, 2009
AppointedJune 8, 2009
Appointed byBarack Obama
Prior offices
New York City Health Commissioner
CDC Assignee to India
CDC Assignee to New York City
Bachelor'sOberlin College
Master'sColumbia University
M.D.Columbia University
OtherYale University (Infectious Disease training)
Office website
Thomas "Tom" Frieden (b. December 14, 1960, in Yonkers, New York) is the current Director of the Center for Disease Control (CDC). He was appointed by President Barack Obama on May 15, 2009, but did not take office until June 2009. The position does not require United States Senate confirmation.[1]

Frieden previously worked for the CDC before becoming the New York City Health Commissioner in 2002.[2]


Frieden graduated from Oberlin College before earning his master's of public health and medical degree from Columbia University. He took infectious disease training at Yale University. Frieden has authored over 200 scientific articles.[2]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Frieden's academic, professional and political career:[2]

  • 1990-1992: Epidemiologic Intelligence Service Officer for the CDC
  • 1992-1996: Assignee to New York City's tuberculosis program for the CDC
  • 1996-2002: Assignee to the World Health Organization in India for the CDC
  • 2002-2009: Commissioner of the New York City Health Department
  • 2009-Present: Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC Director term initiatives

Ebola virus

See also: Ebola in America, 2014

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention first began investigating the ebola virus in 1976 when an outbreak occurred in Zaire and Sudan.[3] In March 2014, medical experts announced an outbreak of the virus in Guinea, which killed 78 people between January and April 2014.[4] In the following months, the virus spread to Sierra Leone, Liberia and Senegal, in what the World Health Organization (WHO) described could result in more than 20,000 deaths.[5][6] Numerous African countries have shut down borders and halted international travel as a precaution against the virus.[7]

Frieden activated the agency's emergency operation center on August 7, 2014, in an effort to help stop the spread of the virus; however, he expressed concern on September 2, 2014, with the virus' spread, suggesting, "It is the world’s first Ebola epidemic, and it’s spiraling out of control. It’s bad now, and it’s going to get worse in the very near future. There is still a window of opportunity to tamp it down, but that window is closing. We really have to act now."[8][9]

First case diagnosed in U.S.

The first case in the United States was diagnosed in Thomas Allen Duncan, who flew in from Liberia on September 20, 2014. He did not show symptoms of the virus for four to five days, after which he was placed in quarantine in Dallas, Texas. Frieden said Duncan was not showing symptoms until four or five days after he entered the country. While he did have contact with multiple people in the U.S. prior to his isolation, Frieden stated, "I have no doubt that we'll stop this in its tracks in the U.S. But I also have no doubt that as long as the outbreak continues in Africa, we need to be on our guard."[10]

On October 1, 2014, state and local health officials in Dallas issued an order for the family members he visited and others he came in contact with to remain in isolation for monitoring for 21 days. Between 12 and 18 people were given the orders, along with the need for them to submit to blood testing.[11] The following day, the total number of people in isolation raised to nearly 100, covering those who came in brief contact with Duncan or the house his family lived in. At the time of their isolation none showed symptoms of Ebola.[12] Duncan died from the virus on October 8, 2014.[13]

First case contracted in the U.S.

A Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, who treated Duncan in Texas was the first American to contract the virus on U.S. soil when she showed symptoms October 10, 2014, and was officially diagnosed two days later. ABC News, "Dallas Nurse With Ebola Identified," October 13, 2014]</ref> Officials were not sure how she might have been exposed, but Frieden did acknowledge that the most at-risk activity was removing the protective suit after having contact with an Ebola patient, saying, "It’s not easy to do right."[14]

National Nurses United, the largest nursing union in the U.S., came out against what it perceived as Frieden claiming that Pham broke protocol on October 12, 2014, leading her to be infected. The union claimed that 80 percent of nurses did not receive full training, 36 percent of nurses polled claimed their hospital did not have the necessary supplies to handle an Ebola case and 76 percent say their hospitals' administrations had not issued suitable plans for Ebola cases.[15] Frieden responded to accusations from the union that he was using Pham as a "scapegoat" by his suggesting she broke protocol. He responded, "Some interpreted that as finding fault with the hospital or the healthcare worker. I'm sorry if that was the impression given. That was certainly not my intention." He also noted that the administration would be looking to re-examine the government response to Ebola to look for better ways of handling and containing the situation. Frieden commented, "We have to rethink the way we address Ebola infection control because even a single infection is unacceptable."[16]

Response to travel ban calls

Frieden claimed on October 4, 2014, a ban would only do more harm, suggesting the ban would not allow critical aid workers to reach the countries and assist in containing the virus.[17]


Frieden speaks Spanish.[2]

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  1. New York Times, "New York City Official Is Obama Pick for C.D.C.," May 15, 2009
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 CDC, "Tom Frieden, MD, MPH," accessed March 4, 2014
  3. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named CDChist
  4. The Guardian, "Guinea's Ebola outbreak: what is the virus and what's being done?," April 1, 2014
  5. The Guardian, "First Ebola case in Senegal confirmed," August 29, 2014
  6. The Guardian, "Ebola cases in west Africa could rise to 20,000 says WHO," August 28, 2014
  7. The Guardian, "West Africa in quarantine: Ebola, closed borders and travel bans," August 22, 2014
  8. The Hill, "Ebola epidemic 'spiraling out of control,' CDC director says," September 2, 2014
  9. The Guardian, "Ebola outbreak: CDC director activates US emergency operation center," August 7, 2014
  10. CNN, "First diagnosed case of Ebola in the U.S.," September 30, 2014
  11. Politico, "Dallas Ebola patient’s family ordered to stay isolated at home," October 2, 2014
  12. The Hill, "100 people now monitored for Ebola," October 2, 2014
  13. BBC, "US Ebola patient Thomas Duncan dies in hospital," October 8, 2014
  14. The Washington Post, "Second Ebola case confirmed. Texas health worker wore ‘full’ protective gear.," October 12, 2014
  15. The Washington Post, "National Nurses United says most hospitals are not prepared for Ebola," October 12, 2014
  16. The Hill, "CDC rethinking Ebola strategy after infection of Dallas nurse," October 13, 2014
  17. The Hill, "CDC director: Travel ban could make Ebola outbreak worse," October 4, 2014