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Boehner: Obama Should Consider Travel Ban to Fight Ebola

Boehner: Obama Should Consider Travel Ban to Fight Ebola
House Speaker John Boehner. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Thursday, 16 October 2014 11:30 AM

House Speaker John Boehner and other lawmakers said President Barack Obama should consider a temporary ban on travel to the U.S. from countries where the Ebola virus is rampant.

“This administration must be able to assure Americans that we will stop the spread here at home,” Boehner, an Ohio Republican, said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.

Georgia Republican Representative Tom Price said today the U.S. must do more to keep people infected with Ebola from entering the country.

“Denying entry to the U.S., or requiring a period of quarantine prior entry, to anyone from an affected country ought to be on the table,” Price said.

In addition, two Republican lawmakers called for Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas R. Frieden’s resignation, saying he mishandled the cases of two health-care workers in Texas who contracted Ebola.

Representative Pete Sessions of Texas, a member of the House Republican leadership, told talk show host Laura Ingraham that Frieden had failed to prevent the spread of the virus to two health workers who cared for a man who died of the disease in Dallas. Representative Tom Marino of Pennsylvania also called for Frieden to quit, saying that the “Ebola situation is beginning to spiral beyond control.”

Second Nurse

Sessions, whose district is home to the hospital where the Ebola patients were treated, and Marino commented after the agency said yesterday that the second Texas nurse who tested positive for Ebola flew from Dallas to Cleveland and back.

Some congressional lawmakers, especially Republicans, have criticized the Obama administration’s response to the threat of Ebola spreading in the U.S. Some in addition to Boehner have called for a temporary ban on travelers entering the country from the West African nations battling the disease.

Among those pressing for a travel ban is Representative Ed Royce, who urged the Obama administration to suspend the issuance of U.S. travel visas to foreign nationals in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, where the outbreak has claimed more than 4,000 lives.

“This is a reasonable and immediately implementable containment measure that may help mitigate the risk of further translocation to the United States, while not impeding the U.S. response to the epidemic,” Royce, a California Republican and chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry.

Direct Flights

Democratic Representative John Barrow of Georgia said today the U.S. should stop direct flights from countries with “out- of-control” Ebola infection rates, and impose a 21-day delay on travel visas for people coming from or traveling through those countries.

Frieden, the CDC chief, has previously rejected calls for a travel ban from West Africa and has said that flights to and from the region are needed for health workers and supplies to help combat the disease. He’s scheduled to testify today before the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

So far, there are only two documented cases of people contracting the virus in the U.S. Both are health workers who came into contact with Thomas Eric Duncan, who flew from Liberia to visit family in Texas before showing symptoms. He died at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital on Oct. 8.

‘Utterly Unacceptable’

“The reports my colleagues and I have received are utterly unacceptable and the information provided to the public has been cryptic and in some cases misleading,” Marino said in a statement. “This has provided a false sense of security to many of our citizens. That is exactly the opposite of the CDC director’s primary responsibilities.”

Americans woke up to the news of a second case of Ebola in Texas yesterday with “a sad sense of reality,” Sessions said in an interview with CNN.

“Reality is we really don’t understand enough about Ebola,” said Sessions, adding that patients should be isolated and sent to specialized hospitals instead of regional facilities.

U.S. officials are now tracking at least 132 people who were on the the Frontier Airlines flight taken by the newly diagnosed Texas woman. The flight has raised concern that the disease could spread beyond the Dallas area.

Immediate Resources

Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown has joined lawmakers urging the administration to do more to curb the spread of the deadly Ebola virus. Brown called on the CDC to “dedicate immediate resources to organize monitoring services in Northeast Ohio.

‘‘This includes close coordination with Ohio health officials and medical facilities, tracking and monitoring of Ohioans who may have been in contact with the patient, and the readying and potential deployment of infection experts to Ohio,’’ Brown said in a statement.

In a letter to Frieden and Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell, Brown urged federal officials to identify and locate anyone who had contact with the Texas woman while she was in Ohio and monitor them for potential symptoms.

Brown said officials should train local health officials on proper protocols for interacting with infected people and prepare a team of infection experts who could deploy to Ohio if there is an outbreak there.

Marino was one of 27 House lawmakers -- 3 Democrats and 24 Republicans -- who signed an Oct. 8 letter to Obama calling for a ban on individuals entering the U.S. from the worst-affected countries in West Africa.

Cruz, Roberts

Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Pat Roberts also have urged the administration to halt flights from affected countries.

‘‘Common sense dictates that we should impose a travel ban on commercial airline flights from nations afflicted by Ebola,’’ Cruz told the Dallas Morning News.

Also, the top Republicans on the House and Senate transportation panels -- Representative Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania and Senator John Thune of South Dakota -- urged an immediate travel ban.

Ohio’s other senator, Republican Rob Portman, said Obama should appoint an official to coordinate U.S. strategy to combat Ebola. Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, also has called on Obama to designate an ‘‘Ebola czar.’’

Senator John Cornyn and Representative Michael McCaul, both Texas Republicans, on Oct. 10 wrote to U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske urging that Dallas- Fort Worth International Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport be added to five airports that the Department of Homeland Security selected last week for enhanced Ebola screening.

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House Speaker John Boehner and other lawmakers said President Barack Obama should consider a temporary ban on travel to the U.S. from countries where the Ebola virus is rampant. "This administration must be able to assure Americans that we will stop the spread here at...
boehner, obama, travel, ban
Thursday, 16 October 2014 11:30 AM
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