Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers and House Speaker Thom Tillis, who is running for U.S. Senate, are calling for travel restrictions on countries with Ebola outbreaks.
Their announcements come after Ebola was diagnosed for the first time in United States. A Liberian man visiting Texas is being treated for Ebola in a hospital there. The White House said Wednesday it would not impose new travel restrictions on West African countries.
“I think that’s not the way to go about it,” Ellmers, who represents the 2nd Congressional District, told a Republican Women’s Club on Thursday. “Travel arrangements need to be addressed and they need to be restricted.”
Tillis said in a statement Thursday, “Keeping the American people safe must be our nation’s top priority, and the White House should immediately ban travel from from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to contain the spread of Ebola. It makes absolutely no sense to risk more cases of Ebola in the United States by continuing to allow travel from Ebola-inflicted countries. It’s time for Washington to take action to protect the American people.”
He is running against U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, the incumbent Democrat.
CDC Director Tom Frieden said he expects more calls to calm the Ebola threat by using travel restrictions to isolate the West African countries where the disease is raging.
“Honestly, I think this is a tough question and it’s one that is coming up and will come up increasingly,” he said Thursday in a telephone briefing with reporters.
Restricting travel to and from West Africa may seem like a reasonable response, Frieden said, but it “may be the kind of solution to a complex problem that’s quick, simple and wrong.”
That’s because it will be harder to get volunteer medical personnel to those countries if people won’t be able to leave once they arrive.
“And because of that, it will enable the disease to spread more widely there and ultimately, potentially spread more to other countries in Africa and become more of a risk to us here,” Frieden said. “So the best way to protect ourselves is not to try to seal off these countries, but to provide the kind services that are needed so that the disease is contained there.”