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Lawmakers Ignore Experts, Push For Ebola Travel Ban

Growing numbers of lawmakers on Thursday called for a ban on travel from the West African nations at the center of the Ebola epidemic, spurning the advice of the nation’s top health officials who testified that such an action would be counterproductive.

Cries to cut off travel from the affected nations escalated dramatically with the arrival in Texas of Thomas Eric Duncan, who contracted the disease in Liberia and became sick after he arrived in the United States, and whose infection has spread to two nurses who cared for him.

At least 40 members of Congress have gone on record seeking a travel ban, and several pressed the case for one in a hearing on Capitol Hill.

“It needs to be solved in Africa, but until then, we should not be letting these people in, period,” said Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, which held the hearing.

“I restate my ongoing concern that administration officials still refuse to consider any travel restrictions for the more than 1,000 travelers entering the United States each week from Ebola hot zones,” said Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), who heads the subcommittee on oversight and investigations and led the hearing.

“A month ago the president told us someone reaching our shores with Ebola was unlikely, and that we’ve taken the necessary precautions to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus does not get on a plane to the United States,” Murphy said. “Screening and self-reporting have been a demonstrated failure.”

 

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