Two days ago, Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC), on the final leg of a white-knuckle race to retain her seat, said a travel ban from Ebola-stricken West African nations “is not going to help solve this problem.” Today, she came out in favor of such a ban, and claims she has supported one for weeks. Senate candidate Michelle Nunn of Georgia and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis also expressed their support. It looks like getting behind Ebola travel restrictions has become a key part of the Democrat strategy to fool red and purple-state voters into thinking they’re “moderates.” It’s a harbinger of the shifting political winds – or, more properly, a sign that the wind President Obama has stubbornly insisted on sailing into won’t be dying down any time soon. The American public has favored a travel ban by over 2 to 1 since the Ebola scare began.
One reason the ground is shifting is the public’s discovery, through breaking news such as the cruise-ship snafu in Belize, that many other countries already have such travel bans in place. There was never any sound logical reason to resist one for the United States, as you can tell from the bizarre, rambling responses given by those who insist on opposing a ban. Learning that such precautions have been taken elsewhere in the world is only going to make the public more insistent that the United States follow suit.
Adding to the pressure is the not inconsiderable fact that African nations have used travel bans as a vital part of successful Ebola containment strategies, notably Senegal and Nigeria. Senegal was pronounced effectively Ebola-free by the World Health Organization today, after doing a far better job of tracking a lone infected man who crossed the border than the $3.5 trillion U.S. government has been able to manage. The Associated Press says health officials “credit tighter border controls, good patient tracking and other medical practices, and just plain luck with keeping Eboal confined mostly to Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea once the outbreak was first identified nearly seven months ago.” That’s even accounting for the fact that managing physical borders with the hot-zone countries is far more difficult than a ban on air travelers crossing the ocean would be.
Authorities in some African countries imposed tight air travel restrictions, tougher than those contemplated by the U.S. or British governments.
South Africa and Zambia slapped travel and entry restrictions on Ebola-stricken countries. Kenya Airways, the country’s main airline, stopped flying to the affected lands.
In Zimbabwe, all travelers from West Africa are put under 21-day surveillance. Health officials regularly visit those travelers to check their condition.
Nigeria initially banned flights from countries with Ebola but relaxed the restriction once it felt that airlines were competent to take travelers’ temperatures and follow other measures to prevent people with Ebola from flying.
Nigeria has teams taking the temperature of travelers at airports and seaports.
In Ethiopia, the main international airport in Addis Ababa screens all arriving passengers – including those from Europe and the U.S. – for fever using body scans.
The business of restricting travel by the relatively small number of people who can afford to pay $2000 or more for travel to the United States is a more straightforward task. It might also be more urgent, It’s ludicrous to claim this would somehow prevent the delivery of supplies and aid workers to the affected countries – there are countless ways they could be dispatched and recovered without violating a ban on commercial travel from the affected regions. Whatever the cost of providing such transportation would be, it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the chaos that would be unleashed by multiple contaminated passengers arriving in the U.S. Look at how much stress, and expense, has been caused by the very first man to do so.
It’s strange to hear the argument that a travel ban isn’t worth the effort because it wouldn’t be 100 percent effective coming from the same President who once argued that even the most extreme, and ineffective, gun-control laws would be worth enacting if they saved “even one life.” Cost-benefit analysis goes completely out the window when it’s something the Left wants, but somehow the inconvenience and expense to West Africans trumps the safety of Americans when discussion turns to an Ebola ban. Likewise, the very same people in charge of maintaining quarantines are suddenly reduced to claiming that quarantining the disease in Africa is pointless. “When a wildfire breaks out we don’t fence it off,” mused CDC Director Tom Frieden… apparently oblivious to the fact that “fencing off” a wildfire is exactly what you do, as quickly as possible.
Support for a travel ban was raging like a wildfire among congressional Democrats by the end of the day Friday, as the American public decisively rejected head-scratching arguments that preventing people from bringing Ebola into the United States would make it harder to keep Ebola out of the United States, or that a ban would somehow make it harder to keep track of the people who weren’t coming here in the first place. Those who favor the ban are under no illusions that it’s the only step necessary to battle the spread of the disease, as ban opponents frequently imply. It has to be one of the most nonsensical positions ever taken during a moment of crisis, and with more stories about possible cases bubbling through mediaspace, people just don’t have patience to indulge twisted open-borders ideology, or the attempt by liberals to score bank-shot political points off Republicans strongly favoring a ban by smearing them as racists.