Barletta Calls for Travel Ban from Ebola-Stricken Nations
Congressman Lou Barletta, PA-11, today called on the Obama Administration to enforce a ban on inbound travelers originating in countries affected by the growing Ebola outbreak. Barletta said the ban should be imposed immediately and last until health officials have a better grasp of the situation inside the United States and in the West African nations where the disease has become widespread. The Congressman said American citizens who wish to return home from such countries should be allowed to do so, but may have to be screened through a quarantine system upon reentry. He also called for better and more complete training for medical and security personnel at all points of entry.
As Barletta released his statement, a second health care worker in Texas was diagnosed with Ebola. The two medical employees in Dallas were infected after having treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first Ebola patient to die in the U.S., after he traveled to this country from Liberia.
Barletta’s statement is as follows:
“The most basic responsibility of our government is to protect our citizens. I look at it like this: when my four daughters were younger, if my wife and I knew that one of their friends had the flu, we wouldn’t let the sick child into our house. With something as serious as Ebola, I see no reason why we wouldn’t take even stronger precautions. We are faced with the growing threat of a disease, for which there is no known reliable cure, and we know where it’s coming from. Why would we not act in every way possible to stop it from reaching us?
“Unless we take the basic step of controlling access to this country, we are inviting trouble by simply asking travelers how they feel and taking their temperature. Until the American and international medical communities are fully engaged and prepared to fight the spread of Ebola, I do not believe it is wise to continue to allow unfettered travel between affected countries and the United States.
“I have no doubt that the medical professionals risking their lives to fight Ebola on the front lines in Dallas are doing everything in their power to save their patients and protect all Americans. The experts at the Centers for Disease Control are also hard at work, and I am pleased that we were able to fund their efforts even above the president’s most recent request. However, the daily news reports leave the clear impression that the people on the ground are battling an unfamiliar enemy and developing new tactics as they move along. More certainty is required, which means blocking the way to easy entry by those who may already be infected.
“To me it seems illogical to argue that stopping passengers from entering the United States makes it more difficult to contain the disease in Africa. Medical supplies and personnel may still enter the affected nations, and if needed, the United States military could handle transport of people and material where necessary. American citizens wishing to return home from those countries can certainly do so, but may have to pass through quarantine before being cleared.
“Importantly, a travel ban to protect Americans has very recent precedent. Just in July, President Obama placed a temporary ban on travel to and from Israel after a Hamas rocket exploded near Tel Aviv’s airport. The president has it within his power, and indeed his job description, to protect the United States with a similar order today.”