With news that a second health care worker was diagnosed with Ebola and flew to Cleveland despite a developing fever, Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, wants President Barack Obama to consider a temporary flight ban as the virus remains a top health concern.
“A temporary ban on travel to the United States from countries afflicted with the virus is something that the president should absolutely consider along with any other appropriate actions as doubts about the security of our air travel systems grow,” Boehner said in a statement.
Amber Vinson was diagnosed with Ebola. She’s the second health care worker to be diagnosed with the disease after Nina Pham. Vinson and Pham caught the disease after treating Liberian national Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas. Duncan has since passed away. Vinson would later be on a Frontier Airlines flight to Cleveland to prepare for a wedding. Ahead of traveling, she reportedly told the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about the trip, and the CDC gave her the green light to fly.
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The White House and CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden have opposed on multiple occasions a travel ban on West African countries. “Right now we know who’s coming in. If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places … will mean that we won’t be able to do multiple things,” Frieden noted during a House oversight hearing.
“Concerns about the possibility of an outbreak of this sort prompted the House to provide more funding for the CDC than requested, and the tragic developments seen in recent weeks demonstrate that decision was a prudent one,” Boehner said.
Along with public health institutions, Boehner said local, state and federal agencies need to be prepared to identify and tackle the virus. He also claimed “numerous” committees, such as the House Armed Services Committee and the Committees on Appropriations, have been evaluating the Obama administration’s response to combating Ebola. Boehner acknowledged the Homeland Security Committee held a hearing in Dallas to assess federal, state and local response. The House Energy and Commerce Committee hosted a hearing with the CDC and the National Institute of Health about their response methods.
“These oversight efforts will continue, and the House stands ready to act if it becomes clear legislation is needed to ensure the threat is countered aggressively and effectively,” Boehner said.
“The administration must be able to assure Americans that we will stop the spread here at home. We will continue to press the administration for better information about what steps will be taken to protect the American people, including our troops, from this deadly virus. And we will work with the administration on appropriate policy options that will help stop the spread of this horrific disease both here in the United States and around the globe.”
Boehner’s comments comes after Obama held an emergency meeting in the White House about the government’s response to Ebola on Wednesday afternoon. The outcome of the emergency meeting resulted Obama to announce a rapid SWAT-team style response when an individual is diagnosed with Ebola while following protective and appropriate protocol. He said a review of Duncan’s care is underway and contacts people he was engaged with while at the hospital.
“I want people to understand that the dangers of you contracting Ebola, the dangers of a serious outbreak are extraordinarily low,” Obama said. “But we are taking this very seriously at the highest levels of government. And we are going to be able to manage this particular situation, but we have to look towards the future.”