By Tim Jimenez

MONROVIA, Liberia (CBS) — US officials say close to half of the 7,300 Ebola deaths in West Africa so far have been in Liberia.  That’s where US senator Chris Coons (D-Del.) is right now, in the middle of a four-day trip to get a good look at the American response to the deadly outbreak.

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Since Coons arrived in Liberia late last week, he has thanked some of the US troops on the ground, and met a number of people with ties to the First State:  “Liberians who have family in Delaware, who are housed in Delaware, or just came from Delaware or visited Delaware. It has been truly surprising to me,” Coons said.

Sen. Coons, the first member of Congress to visit Liberia since the Ebola outbreak, says he wants to remind Americans that the fight against the disease is far from over and the US investment of billions of dollars and thousands of troops is very much needed.

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“What has helped significantly turn the corner is logistics,” he said this morning (our time).  “In the rainy season, in particular, the ability to have the logistics capability of the US military here was, I believe, critical.”

A spokesman for the US Department of Defense says there are 2,812 troops and civilian personnel in West Africa  — 2,629  in Liberia, and 183 in Senegal.  The CDC says there have been 3,346 Ebola deaths in Liberia.

Coons says he’s on a low-risk itinerary, has been checking his temperature regularly, and will keep doing so when he gets back to the United States.

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