AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - U.S. Rep. John Barrow is urging the federal government and the Centers for Disease Control to implement flight restrictions to address the "growing Ebola crisis in the United States."
Barrow, who represents Georgia's 12th District, sent a letter Thursday to Secretary of State John Kerry, the CDC and the Federal Aviation Administration, asking them to stop flights to and from countries with "out-of-control Ebola infection rates." He also asked them to implement a 21-day delay on travel visas to the U.S. for any person traveling from, or any person who has traveled through, an Ebola-affected country.
CDC Director Tom Frieden has said that he does not support a travel ban, but the CDC has increased screenings at five major airports in the U.S. in an effort to stop the most likely entry of infected people into the U.S.
The full text of Barrow's letter is below:
Dear Secretary Kerry, Director Frieden, and Administrator Huerta:
It seems we are reaching a tipping point in our efforts to combat the Ebola virus around the world and to keep it from becoming a full blown catastrophe in the United States. The American people have grave concerns about the U.S. government's handling of this crisis so far. The coming days are pivotal in our efforts to regain control of this epidemic and restore confidence in the American people. Please consider these safeguards that I think will help do both.
First, we must stop direct flights from countries with out-of-control Ebola infection rates. This is basic, with no real unmanageable consequences, and just makes too much common sense not to do. We can easily make safe, secure, alternative accommodations for aid workers and those who have justifiable emergencies. But I fear that, for someone infected with Ebola, it is too great a temptation to hop on a direct flight to the United States in hopes of being treated in an American hospital. We can't risk it.
Second, I think we should implement a 21 day delay on travel visas to the US for any person traveling from, or who has traveled through, an Ebola-affected country. Such a policy would take relatively little infrastructure and manpower on our part. The prospective traveler would simply need to notify us of their intent to enter the U.S. and be prepared to document that they've spent the previous 21 days in an Ebola-free country before being allowed to enter the U.S. For the majority of travelers, this would prove to be only a limited inconvenience, and it would certainly be an effective deterrent to the spread of this disease in our country.
Lastly, I suggest we exert more formal control over the travel of those who have been exposed to Ebola, in the United States, and are at high risk for infection. It's been reported that someone who had been identified as having had a high risk of exposure was allowed to get on a plane and travel within the United States. That's inexcusable. If high risk individuals cannot be counted on to prevent unintended exposure to innocent parties, then we owe it to the potential victims of such exposure to make sure that cannot happen.
I'm confident these travel restrictions will help the efforts to combat Ebola, and that they send a strong message that we're serious about the health and safety of the American people. I hope you'll take these suggestions seriously.