Friday, October 17, 2014
Billy Long on Ebola virus: We need travel restrictions now
I participated in the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on the Ebola outbreak. Americans are questioning what the government is doing to stop the spread of Ebola in our country and they deserve answers to their questions.
In August 2014, two American health care workers returned to the U.S. after working in Africa and contracting the Ebola virus. Both patients were transported under very strict isolation measures and treated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) at an isolated facility. Following treatment, both patients responded favorably to experimental drugs administered by the CDC. Recently Thomas Duncan was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Texas, and passed away due to the disease, and there are now two health care workers who treated Duncan battling Ebola.
As a member of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, it is my responsibility to hear what the CDC, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and other agencies are doing to prevent further spread of this virus. My constituents want to know why a travel ban has not been instituted and our borders have not been secured. They also are questioning why the government does not have one centralized location for treatment of Ebola patients returning to the United States.
During the subcommittee hearing I admonished people for their collective lack of respect for the two dedicated health care workers battling Ebola. We should not call them “Nurse One” and “Nurse 2”; Nina Pham and Amber Vinson are dedicated health care workers who have families and friends concerned about their wellbeing; they deserve to be shown respect.I also questioned CDC Director Dr. Frieden on why travel restrictions have not been implemented. I told him I predict the government is going to put travel restrictions in place at some point; travel restrictions are coming and I think we need them now rather than later.
Americans have a right to be concerned about the Ebola outbreak. I am hopeful the recent hearing will help alleviate some of their concerns about actions taken or not taken to protect them. It is imperative our country takes aggressive steps to stop the Ebola outbreak.