President Barack Obama is to blame for the arrival of the first case of Ebola in New York City because of his persistent refusal to ban incoming flights from West Africa, Republicans say.
The reaction comes one day after an American doctor, Craig Spencer
, 33, was diagnosed with the virus after returning from Guinea, where he was providing care for patients afflicted by the outbreak.
"This was avoidable. President Obama and Gov. Cuomo left JFK airport open to passengers arriving from Ebola-stricken nations even though they knew the likelihood of an Ebola case arriving here was great. Somehow political correctness was deemed more important than public safety," said New York Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, according to the New York Daily News
He added that for weeks he had been calling on Obama and Cuomo to close New York-area airports to prevent the public safety risks of cases coming to New York, but both politicians refused.
"The Centers for Disease Control [and Prevention] specifically warned New York City last week that Ebola cases would arrive via JFK, and still nothing was done. Now, that case has arrived, and the scramble begins in the nation's largest city to find those who might have had contact with the patient.
"This is an extraordinary dereliction of duty and common sense both by the governor and the president," Astorino added, calling it a "colossal failure of federal and state leadership."
New York GOP Rep. Peter King insisted the administration's policies on Ebola should be more robust.
"I think there should be more restrictions when they come back. As we saw in the first few weeks with the CDC, they were wrong in certain areas. I don't think we know yet enough about Ebola and how it may be transmitted, for instance in the region like Africa as opposed to where you can find urban centers in New York with the subways, the crowded population," King said Friday on MSNBC's "Morning Joe
Real estate tycoon Donald Trump
also blasted the president for New York's first case of Ebola.
"If this doctor, who so recklessly flew into New York from West Africa, has Ebola, then Obama should apologize to the American people and resign!" Trump said in a tweet Thursday evening.
In another tweet he said, "I have been saying for weeks for President Obama to stop the flights from West Africa. So simple, but he refused. A TOTAL incompetent!"
Pennsylvania GOP Rep. Tim Murphy reiterated his call for a mandatory three-week quarantine for any health worker who has had contact or treated patients stricken with the deadly disease, The Hill
Hours after Spencer's diagnosis was announced, Murphy said the administration must "take every necessary precaution to prevent the spread of Ebola virus here in the United States by implementing a mandatory 21-day quarantine period for returning healthcare workers who have had direct exposure to patients."
Earlier this week, numerous Republican lawmakers blasted the administration for its ongoing refusal to enact a travel ban
"I am not sure why the implementation of a sensible travel and visa ban is taking so long," Pennsylvania Rep. Tom Marino, a member of the House Homeland Security Committee, told Newsmax. "It is a reasonable and prudent approach."
He added, "The exact motives and justifications from this administration are all too often makeshift and superficial."
More partisan criticism will likely mount on Friday as the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform holds hearings on the Obama administration's handling of the Ebola crisis, The New York Times
On Thursday, lawmakers on the House Energy and Commerce Committee wrote to the president, saying the administration could have done more than it has so far to stop the spread of Ebola to the United States.
"We continue to believe the administration should evaluate options to limit these flights while ensuring the area is still able to receive the personnel and supplies necessary," the lawmakers wrote, according to the Times.
A growing list of nearly 30 countries
have instituted travel bans blocking travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, where more than 4,000 people have died as the virus continues to spread. The list includes nearly every African nation, in addition to countries in South America and territories in the Caribbean.
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