Tags: Ebola Outbreak | Ebola | CDC | Obama

Obama Scrapped CDC Rule Giving Feds Power to Block Ill Travelers

By    |   Friday, 03 October 2014 12:59 PM

Four years ago, quietly and without public notice, the Obama administration scrapped quarantine plans from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which could have blocked travelers with the deadly Ebola virus from entering the U.S.

The Daily Caller reports that the rules, which would have given the federal government quarantine power over sick airline passengers, likely would have stopped Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian resident and the first case of Ebola reported in the U.S., from ever setting foot in the country and bringing Ebola with him.

Duncan may have infected up to 100 people before being confined to an isolation ward in a Texas hospital.

The rules, first proposed by the CDC under the Bush administration in 2005, would have allowed the federal government to quarantine airline passengers showing symptoms for up to three days, as well as people exposed to those symptoms, and required airlines to inform the CDC about sick passengers and keep contact information on all passengers to enable the CDC to track down those possibly exposed.

Ebola was one of the diseases listed, along with highly contagious diseases such as smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria, pandemic flu, tuberculosis and cholera. The rules were only to be used in the event someone suspected of carrying such diseases refused to cooperate with authorities.

Meanwhile, the State Department is refusing to ban travel from West Africa to the U.S., despite calls from Rep. Alan Grayson, D-Fla., who first requested a travel ban in July in a letter to Secretary of State John Kerry after the first Ebola cases broke out in West Africa, the Washington Times reports.

Grayson was informed by the Department of Homeland Security that they will "continue to work with its federal colleagues on any additional measures needed," while a State Department spokesman said of a travel ban, "I don’t believe that's something we're considering."

"The person who is now known to be infected with the disease had four days when he could have had contact with hundreds of people,” Grayson told U.S. News and World Report. "Can you tell me every person with whom he shook hands on Sept. 24?"

"As much as we all may enjoy visits from people from other countries, at this point people from those countries are threatening our health and our well-being. We go to great lengths to prevent terrorists from visiting us and we should go to similar lengths to protect ourselves from people infected with the Ebola disease.

"Why are we playing dice with the lives of thousands of Americans?"

Even Botswana has imposed a travel ban on those from countries with an Ebola outbreak, with Health Minister John Seakgosing telling The Voice, "This is a nation’s health security and Ebola is very serious and deadly. We cannot afford to take that chance."

In 2010, when the quarantine plan was dropped, American Civil Liberties Union attorney Christopher Calabrese told USA Today: "The fact that they're backing away from this very coercive style of quarantine is good news."

Duncan arrived in the U.S. on Sept. 20, traveling on a visa to visit family members. He became ill on Sept, 24 and went to a hospital, but was sent away with antibiotics, only to return and be confined to an isolation ward on Sept. 28.

Mark Krikorian, president of the Center for Immigration Studies, wrote in the National Review: "The idea that we allow people from those countries to board planes for the U.S. so long as they don’t have a fever is absurd.

"Much of our political class is simply uncomfortable with the idea that border and immigration controls should be used vigorously and unapologetically to protect Americans. You can hear the objections now: It would be xenophobic. It might stigmatize West Africans. Those countries will object to our State Department that they’re being discriminated against.

"The Ebola incident is simply part of a broader trend of cosmopolitan hostility to the idea of national borders as a security tool," Krikorian wrote.

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Four years ago, quietly and without public notice, the Obama administration scrapped quarantine plans from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) which could have blocked travelers with the deadly Ebola virus from entering the U.S.
Ebola, CDC, Obama
Friday, 03 October 2014 12:59 PM
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