It may seem like a nondescript and fairly routine presidential meeting, but it was intended to send a strong message: That devout Christian, Dr. Kent Brantly, is completely Ebola-free, and that it is safe to interact with survivors of the deadly virus.
There is still plenty of concern and hysteria surrounding the treatment of American patients with Ebola at U.S. facilities. Brantly is just one of four people who have been or currently are being treated at U.S. hospitals; as a survivor, he is now free of the virus and immune to the strain of Ebola that's currently ravaging several countries in West Africa, according to The Washington Post.
That Obama is willing to sit in a room with Brantly demonstrates that the leader of the free world believes those concerns have no basis.
"I had a chance to see Dr. Brantly in the Oval Office this morning," Obama said Tuesday afternoon at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. "And although he is still having to gain back some weight, he looks great, he looks strong and we are incredibly grateful to him and his family for the service he has rendered to people who are a lot less lucky than all of us."
Brantly and his wife Amber met with the president ahead of Brantly's testimony before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee and before Obama left for the CDC. News reporters and photographers were not permitted in the meeting, according to The Washington Post.
Perhaps the only more powerful image might have been a handshake.
Brantley had previously written:
"I am writing this update from my isolation room at Emory University Hospital, where the doctors and nurses are providing the very best care possible. I am growing stronger every day, and I thank God for His mercy as I have wrestled with this terrible disease. I also want to extend my deep and sincere thanks to all of you who have been praying for my recovery as well as for Nancy and for the people of Liberia and West Africa.
"My wife Amber and I, along with our two children, did not move to Liberia for the specific purpose of fighting Ebola. We went to Liberia because we believe God called us to serve Him at ELWA Hospital.
"One thing I have learned is that following God often leads us to unexpected places. When Ebola spread into Liberia, my usual hospital work turned more and more toward treating the increasing number of Ebola patients. I held the hands of countless individuals as this terrible disease took their lives away from them. I witnessed the horror first-hand, and I can still remember every face and name.
"When I started feeling ill on that Wednesday morning, I immediately isolated myself until the test confirmed my diagnosis three days later. When the result was positive, I remember a deep sense of peace that was beyond all understanding. God was reminding me of what He had taught me years ago, that He will give me everything I need to be faithful to Him.
"Now it is two weeks later, and I am in a totally different setting. My focus, however, remains the same - to follow God. As you continue to pray for Nancy and me, yes, please pray for our recovery. More importantly, pray that we would be faithful to God's call on our lives in these new circumstances."