Senator ted Cruz (R-TX) has a very important job. He’s the man who stands on the soapbox and tells the truth as loudly and as often as he can. He does this on a variety of subjects: healthcare, immigration, taxes, spending, religious persecution, Islam, and now – Ebola.
Senator Cruz has written an op-ed for TribTalk, a publication of the Texas Tribune, wherein he demands that President Obama ban all incoming flights from the Ebola ravaged nations of West Africa.
We need to do everything we can to contain this outbreak, to help the people who are suffering in Africa and to prevent this epidemic from spreading. But our first priority must be to protect the health and safety of American citizens. The Constitution sets forth the federal government’s responsibility to “provide for the common defense.” That should be the president’s focus.
Already, one Liberian citizen, Thomas Eric Duncan, was able to fly on a commercial flight to Texas, arriving at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport infected with Ebola. Duncan lost his life, but not before transmitting the disease to a Dallas nurse, Nina Pham, who bravely put her life in jeopardy caring for him in his final days. Officials announced on Wednesday that another health care worker had been diagnosed with the virus. Our prayers are with that worker, Pham and Duncan’s grieving family.
We all very much hope the virus will not spread any further in Texas. But hope is not a strategy. Given the gravity of the threat, common sense dictates that it’s time to ban flights from the countries afflicted by Ebola.
The federal government has implemented screenings at five major American airports for passengers arriving from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. Notably, the screenings don’t include other airports like DFW, where Duncan arrived.
This is not enough. The screenings are not effective if the patient is not symptomatic, and the Ebola virus has an incubation period of up to 21 days. During that time, an Ebola carrier presents no symptoms and is not contagious. Anyone traveling during those 21 days will likely walk right through the screening.
Banning flights from the afflicted countries is a prudent, common-sense step until the epidemic is brought under control.
The Obama administration resists doing so, telling us that the U.S. health care system is much more advanced than Africa’s and is thus better able to contain an outbreak. That’s true, but an outbreak here could nonetheless be catastrophic.
We know that even with high-quality American health care, Duncan transmitted the virus to at least two workers. Despite the CDC protocols, the biohazard suits, nitrile gloves and goggles, the virus was still passed to Pham and her co-worker, although we don’t yet know how. But we do know simple human error, a tiny flaw in equipment or the potential of a mutating virus can render even the most cautious protocols ineffective.
I recently visited with the leadership of one of Texas’s largest health care systems about their precautions to counter Ebola. I asked how many Ebola patients they could reasonably handle with these protocols. “Six or so,” they responded. What if, God forbid, we saw 8,000, as in West Africa? They had no answer.
We shouldn’t risk finding out what that answer might be.
Senator Cruz is, of course, correct. Shutting down flights from Ebola ravaged nations is simply common sense and should have happened weeks ago. We can still help West Africa without putting our citizens here at risk.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com