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Customs: Over 2,000 Entering USA from West Africa without Screening

Customs: Over 2,000 Entering USA from West Africa without Screening

Thursday at a congressional hearing on Ebola, Rep. Cory Gardner (R-CO) questioned John P. Wagner, the acting assistant commissioner at the Office of Field Operations, Customs and Border Protection at the Department of Homeland Security about the number of people entering the United States from West African countries.

Gardner first asked CDC Director Dr Tom Frieden, “I think you mentioned there were approximately 100 to 150 people a day coming into the United States from the infected areas?”

Exchange continues as follows:

FRIEDEN: That’s my understanding, yes.

GARDNER: Mr. Wagner you admitted we’re screening 94 percent of those people?

WAGNER: As of today that covers about 94 percent.

GARDNER: So if 94 percent are being covered, that means somewhere between two and three thousand people a year are coming into this country without being screened from the infected areas?

WAGNER: Well, they would undergo a different form of screening. We’re still going to identify that they’ve been to one of those three affected regions, and we’re still going to ask them questions about their itinerary. We’re going to be alert to any overt signs of illness and coordinate with CDC and public health if they’re sick, and we’re also going to give them a fact sheet about Ebola, about the symptoms, what to watch for, and most importantly, who to contact?

GARDNER: Will you be checking their temperature?

WAGNER: We will not be checking their temperatures or having them fill out a contact sheet.

GARDNER: There’s 2,000 to 3,000 people their — entering this country a year without checking their temperature, without having a contact sheet.

Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN

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