On Monday on HLN, CNN medical reporter Elizabeth Cohen said she was aghast at the lax screening procedures at airports for passengers who might have been exposed to Ebola. She said that even after she told agents she was coming back from Liberia and had been covering the Ebola epidemic, the screening agents did not seem to care and could not even tell her what symptoms were Ebola warning signs.
“I expected that they were going to take my temperature, they would ask me lots of questions, but they didn’t,” Cohen said on HLN on Monday. “I said, ‘I’m a journalist. I’ve come back from Liberia. I was covering Ebola.’ And the gentleman who was helping me–the officer–he started to hand my passport back and say, ‘welcome home.'”
Cohen told host Robin Meade that the screening agent then said, “oh wait a second, I got an email about passengers like you, hold on a second.” According to Cohen, “he went and conferred with someone and he didn’t know, and they conferred with someone else and” he ultimately said, “you need to watch yourself for signs of Ebola.”
Cohen said, “and I said, ‘well what am I watching for?’ and he couldn’t tell me.”
“Now is if that weren’t bad enough Robin, I was traveling with two colleagues–a photojournalist and a producer–and they weren’t told anything, and they also said that they were journalists who’ve been covering Ebola,” Cohen said. “So we were all kind of shocked and pretty horrified at the lack of screening in US airports.”
Before the Obama administration announced additional airport screenings later in the day, Cohen said she hoped that the lax screening procedures for people coming in from West African nations would improve.
On Sunday’s Meet the Press, Andrea Mitchell said the Obama administration believes it can screen about “75% of the people coming in… at four main airports [JFK, Dulles, O’Hare, Newark].” She also said “you cannot trust” West Africans to honestly answer the Ebola questionnaires before boarding flights to America as more officials have called on the Obama administration to institute an Ebola travel ban.
Americans have been on heightened alert after Liberian immigrant Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person on American soil to be diagnosed with Ebola after he entered the country on a visa under questionable circumstances.