Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-PA) described the new travel restrictions the Obama administration announced for travelers originating in Ebola-stricken countries as “nothing of the sort.”
“With no vaccine or cure, we are facing down a disease for which there is no room for error. While the Administration describes this announcement as new travel restrictions, they are nothing of the sort. The only ‘restriction’ is which airport a traveler from an Ebola hot zone may land at when they arrive in the United States,” Murphy said in a statement.
Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that all travelers originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea would be made to fly into one of the five airports currently screening for the disease in the U.S.
“We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed,” DHS Sec. Jeh Johnson announced.
Murphy — whose committee held a hearing on the Ebola threat last week — stressed that the number one goal should be protecting public health by instituting real restrictions on travel and quarantines.
“I am urging we start first from the strongest line of defense and work down, not begin with the weakest line of public health protections and scramble our way up,” Murphy added. “To fully protect the American public, the Administration must advance concrete travel restrictions that include a quarantine coupled with an immediate ban on all non-essential commercial travel from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone.”
Following his committee’s hearing last week Murphy sent a letter to Obama detailing nine steps he sees as key to protecting Americans from the deadly virus. According to his office, about four of his recommendations have been implemented including more training for health care workers, new quarantine standards for people exposed in Dallas, more contact tracing resources and more focus on treatments.