The Obama administration has taken a small step in the right direction on preventing Ebola from reaching U.S. shores. The Department of Homeland Security has narrowed down the ports of entry for travelers from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone to five airports including: Dulles, JFK, Newark, O’Hare and Atlanta. Reuters reports:
Affected travelers will have their temperatures checked for signs of a fever that may indicate Ebola infection, among other protocols, at New York’s John F. Kennedy, New Jersey’s Newark, Washington Dulles, Atlanta, and Chicago’s O’Hare international airports, officials said.
“We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption,” Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson said in a statement. “If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.”
Johnson said those airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from the three countries, noting that there are no direct, nonstop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the United States.
“We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days,” Johnson said.
Washington-based trade group Airlines for America, or A4A, noted that under 150 people per day travel to the United States from those three countries and about 6 percent of them, some nine people daily, have been arriving at airports other than the five airports with enhanced Ebola screening.
The group’s member airlines are “cooperating fully” with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency to reroute that 6 percent of travelers to the five designated airports, A4A spokeswoman Jean Medina said.