The calls are growing louder for the Obama administration to ban travel from countries dealing with Ebola virus outbreaks. But, throwing caution to the wind, the White House refuses to even entertain this common-sense first step to protect the United States from experiencing an outbreak of its own.
“There are protocols in place where those individuals who are leaving West Africa and traveling to the West are screened,” White House Spokesman Josh Earnest said yesterday. “We’ve also provided guidance to pilots, flight attendants and others who… are sort of responsible for staffing our transportation infrastructure, we’ve given them guidance for monitoring the health and well-being of travelers, to ensure that if they notice individuals who are exhibiting symptoms that seem to be consistent with Ebola, that the proper authorities are notified.”
No slight intended, but I’m nervous that our first line of defense from a global pandemic is an overworked stewardess who couldn’t get my Bloody Mary order right. Worse still, the administration is treating Ebola not like a disease, but as a civil rights issue. Today, State Department Spokesman/Hashtag aficionada Jen Psaki denounced travel bans as ideologically problematic.
“It actually would be counterproductive, in our view, to put that type of limitation on people,” Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said on the idea of a flight ban. “It remains essential that the world community engage in order to help the effected countries address and contain this ongoing health crisis.”
While some have said a travel ban should be imposed because of uncertainties about the spread of the disease in the United States, Psaki said a ban would prevent doctors from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone from traveling to the United States to receive training on how to deal with the virus. She said some doctors would soon be arriving in the U.S. for that purpose.
That’s right: We’re flying in medical personnel from Ebola hot zones, many of whom may have recently treated patients suffering from the contagious disease. Has Ms. Psaki heard of teleconferences? Why would doctors need to fly here when they could use Skype?
As I write this, various political functionaries are giving an Ebola presser at the White House. Live on CNN, they insist there is nothing, nothing at all, for anyone to worry their pretty little heads about. The four bureaucrats and one general’s halting list of bullet points, vague promises and dutiful praise of Obama’s competence instills approximately zero confidence.
Few Americans are in panic mode about this medical emergency, but many are increasingly concerned about our government’s chirpy “we got this” assurances. After nearly six years of Obama, we’re used to being lied to, spun, and mocked for disagreeing with the spin.
This deep public unease will make it tough for Obama to avoid the inevitable. He’d be far better off banning travel immediately.