Sen. Ted Cruz is asking the Federal Aviation Administration what it's doing to prevent the spread of Ebola after the first U.S. diagnosis, which came in his home state.
"Given the severity of this virus and the fact that its spread to Texas has been associated with travel, it is imperative that the FAA take every available precaution in preventing additional cases from arriving in the United States. As you may be aware, several African nations have already restricted or banned air travel to countries with confirmed cases of the Ebola virus," the Texas Republican wrote in a letter to FAA chief Michael P. Huerta. "British Airways, Emirates Airlines and Kenya Airways have also suspended flights due to the rising death toll and deteriorating public health situation in Ebola-stricken countries."
Among his questions, Cruz is asking Huerta in whether the FAA has any plans to stop allowing flights "to countries that have experienced a significant Ebola outbreak."
Thom Tillis, the Republican speaker of the North Carolina House who is challenging Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan this year has called for such a travel ban. "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," he said. "It's time for Washington to take action to protect the American people."
The Cruz letter and the Tillis statement come after United Airlines confirmed that the U.S. Ebola patient was believed to have flown on two United Flights en route to Texas from Liberia, by way of Europe. The airline said it appeared the patient would have stopped over at Dulles International Airport in Northern Virginia on his way from Brussels to Dallas-Fort Worth.
"The director of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] has stated there is 'zero risk of transmission' on any flight on which the patient flew because he was not symptomatic until several days after his trip and could not have been contagious on the dates he traveled. While the CDC states it is unnecessary for it or the airline to contact others who were on the patient’s flights, United is providing information about the flights United believes the patient took, based on information provided by the CDC," the airline said in a statement. "We are ensuring our employees have this information and suggest that any customers who have concerns contact the experts at the CDC for further information."
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