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Liberian VP visits Minnesota, asks for more help in Ebola recovery

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Gov. Mark Dayton was meeting with the vice president of Liberia, Joseph Boakai, Monday afternoon to discuss the impact of last year's Ebola epidemic on his country.

Boakai has been in the Twin Cities for several days, meeting with state and local officials as well as members of Minnesota's large Liberian community, the Star Tribune reports.

The Twin Cities has one of the largest Liberian populations in the U.S. at more than 30,000 people, and about 17 percent of Liberians living in this country live in Brooklyn Park.

Boakai has made several visits to Brooklyn Park and other northwestern metro suburbs over the past few days, speaking with health care providers about the scarcity of medical supplies and personnel in the slow recovery from the Ebola epidemic and the country's long-running civil war, according to the Star Tribune.

More than 4,800 people died from the Ebola epidemic last year in Liberia and other west African countries, and many of the victims were health care providers, according to Channel 12 News. Basic supplies like gloves and syringes are still scarce.

"It's nothing like you see here," Boakai said, according to Channel 12. "Without good health, there's nothing we can do."

Local governments and residents in the northwest metro have donated a great deal of time, equipment and expertise to help Liberia in its recovery.

The Brooklyn Center Fire Department donated a fire truck to its Liberian sister city, Voinjama, the Sun Post reports. And North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale is donating an ambulance, the Star Tribune says.

At a town hall meeting Friday in Brooklyn Park, Boakai gave an update on the Ebola recovery in his country.

Boakai also visited Dallas and Altanta last week as part of his trip to America, and encouraged corporate America to help create employment opportunities in Liberia, AllAfrica.com reports.

Minnesota connection to Ebola

Concerns over the Ebola virus began spreading worldwide in July 2014, in part because Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian-American with family living in Coon Rapids, Minnesota, took an international flight from Liberia to Nigeria and died a few days later from the Ebola virus

Because Sawyer was able to board an international flight, his death had people worried the virus could spread from one nation to the next.

The 40-year-old father of three was the first American to die from the virus. He had planned to travel to Minnesota to visit his family.

Minnesota doctors and nurses volunteered to assist in Liberia and other stricken west African countries at the height of the outbreak last year.

A Minnesota National Guard unit had been scheduled to deploy to Liberia in April this year to help support the fight against Ebola in that country. But the deployment was canceled a few months after it was announced because the situation had improved.

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