Not Banning Travel From West Africa Is Just Insane
Tuesday’s Ebola town hall meeting at MSU was designed to curb fears and reassure the public that, at least in Wichita County, we are aware and prepared. I’m not sure that I walked away thoroughly convinced. Dr. Robert McBroom, one of the nation’s leading infectious disease specialists, led the group and one of the more disturbing things he warned on was that ‘skin to skin contact’ might be sufficient to transmit the disease; not exactly ‘comforting’ info.
The rest of the group, which included Dr. Keith Williamson, Dr. Scott Hoyer, Lou Kreidler, Dr. Ahmed Mattar and Dr. David Carlson we are very reassuring and even confident that this won't get out of hand. The core message-don’t panic. And I don’t think we need to panic. But an over-abundance of caution never hurt anyone. Let’s consider the travel ban from West Africa that President Obama insists we don’t need.
The only patient to die (thus far) in America from Ebola, Thomas Eric Duncan, lied on a health questionnaire in Liberia when quizzed about whether he’d been in contact with anyone with Ebola. Of course, we all know what happened next. Had Duncan lived, Liberia officials had planned to prosecute him. Clearly, they take this mess very seriously. Some 150 people per day arrive in the U.S. from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. That’s about 4,500 per month. If one guy lied about having contact, it stands to reason that another will do so at some point. People lie all the time. Dr. Williamson was quick to point that out Tuesday night and he did so more than once. According to a Washington Post article from October 2, in 2012 the Department of Homeland Security reported to Congress that 148 visiting Liberians had remained in the U.S. illegally.
So why no travel ban? Opponents argue that it would hamper relief efforts to West Africa and that travelers would just ‘find another way’. So we can’t stop travel into the U.S. from Ebola hot zones? Rest assured, with all of the security protocols and flight restrictions and road blocks that have been enacted world-wide since 9/11, everyone is being tracked. None of us flies anywhere that someone in some deep, dark corner of a government bunker doesn’t know about it. You’re smartphone is the ultimate tracking device. And there’s the little matter of passports. Last I checked it’s a bit difficult to travel anymore without one. Well that is unless, of course, you’re walking across the Mexican or Canadian borders.
Banning all travel from these ‘hot zones’ can work for us. Nigeria and Senegal have both been declared Ebola-free. Why? In part because they have disallowed travelers from Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia from entering their countries! Many other African countries have also banned travel from the 'hot zones' into their nations. It's working for them, it will work for us.
What's at work here? Ineptitude? Political correctness? Either one can have dire consequences when dealing with a deadly virus for which we currently have no cure. With elections coming up in less than two weeks, it’s time to get Congress' attention. Congress needs to tell President Obama that we must have a travel ban now! This epidemic is not out of control in America, not even close. But as we have learned from the thousands of deaths in West Africa over just the past year, it can become a major issue in a very, very short period of time. Obama said he had 'a pen and phone and would use them' to go around congress to get his will imposed on America. Come on, Congress-you, too have a pen and phone. Use them.
Get Congressional contact info by clicking here.