Will Travel Ban Help Or Make Ebola Situation Worse?

It seems that the White House and the CDC don’t want to put a travel ban in place to keep travelers from Liberia and other ‘hot zone’ countries from entering the United States. Well, the CDC sort of does:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Tom Frieden told a House panel Thursday he isn’t ruling out a travel ban from Ebola-stricken nations.
“We will consider any options to better protect Americans,” Frieden told the House Energy and Commerce Committee at a hearing examining the federal government’s response to the Dallas Ebola cases.
Lawmakers repeatedly pressured Frieden about a travel ban from Ebola “hot zones,” a move President Obama has resisted despite increasing public support for one.
Frieden’s response marked a change in tone from his earlier blanket opposition to a travel ban, although he warned lawmakers that such a ban might make it more difficult to treat people who have the disease and manage to get into the United States.

Considering that the CDC’s tracking and protocols for the health and welfare of all the caregivers within the United States exposed to Ebola has worked SO WELL up to now, I can certainly understand why the CDC doesn’t want add another level of incompetence to their roster. Especially when Frieden admitted during his testimony that the CDC doesn’t know how Nina Pham or Amber Vinson contracted the disease.  Frieden’s grilling yesterday shows how much or little he actually knows:

Meanwhile Josh Earnest fumbled around his attempts to explain why the White House continues its opposition to a travel ban.

“Now, if we were to put in place a travel ban or a visa ban, it would provide a direct incentive for individuals seeking to travel to the United States to go underground and to seek to evade this screening and to not be candid about their travel history in order to enter the country. And that means it would be much harder for us to keep tabs on these individuals and make sure that they get the screening that’s needed to protect them and to protect, more importantly, the American public.

So, a travel ban will create a new type of underground “sneak into the US” issue.  Is that any different from illegals who crawl over fences, hire coyotes to sneak them in, or tunnel their way to the U.S?  No, that’s not it at all.  The White House thinks a travel ban will create liars.  Should I point out to the geniuses at the White House that Thomas Eric Duncan lied to customs and then lied to the folks at Texas Health?  Thomas Eric Duncan lied.  I have to wonder who else already has.  But for the White House that kind of information would mean a reality intrusion and we really can’t have that!

Lets take a look at another stellar point Mr. Earnest makes. It seems that only a small number of folks come into the U.S on a daily basis. Sure, 150 a day doesn’t seem like much. Until you start doing the math. Travelers entering the United States over the course of 7 days, according to Josh’s 150 a day number, adds up to 1,050. How about a month? 4,200. Yes, that’s 4,200 people who come into the United States nearly every month.  Right now, there are only five airports checking travelers for the Ebola virus, yet history shows that screening is theoretically a good idea but not as effective as one would believe.  Therefore, with approximately 4,200 coming in to the United States each month; its logical to presume that a few or more travelers will be missed. How many of those travelers are carrying Ebola?  Good question.

Meanwhile the CDC has issued travel bans.  If you take a look at the CDC website, you’ll see updated Level 2 & 3 warnings for travel TO Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone.  Not FROM those countries.  Keep in mind that White House Press Secretary “Josh in all his Earnestness” also said that a travel ban would restrict the flow of needed equipment, people, and supplies to help those in West Africa.  He said that with the full knowledge that the President was in the process of signing an Executive Order authorizing the Pentagon to deploy 4,000 National Guard and Reserve to West Africa to augment the Army personnel already in place.  I fail to understand how a travel ban would hinder a country from sending personnel and troops overseas to provide humanitarian aid, but then again I don’t work for the CDC or the White House.

Looking at both sides, it is true that a travel ban has the potential to cause more harm and hysteria than we need. At the same time, a travel ban can aid in stalling or halting the spread of the disease; even if it harms the economy.  Is a travel ban needed? Will it help, or will it make the situation worse?  That’s the $24,000 question isn’t it?

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