For weeks, some members of Congress have been pleading for a ban on travel for people coming into the United States from West African Ebola stricken countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone, but to no avail. Tired of waiting, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal decided to take the matter into his own hands.
Yesterday, Governor Jindal signed an executive order whereby all state departments, agencies, and offices are to develop a plan and reporting mechanism for employees whereby they would be mandated to disclose any recent travel to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea.
In an effort to better protect the people of Louisiana from being exposed to the deadly Ebola virus, the order was put in place to monitor travelers. If an employee does report a recent visit to one of the West African countries where Ebola is running rampant, an immediate restriction will be enforced.
As part of the order, an employee who has admitted to West African travel will be restricted for 21 days from using commercial transportation or public spaces. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 21 days is the incubation period for the Ebola virus. As such, Governor Jindal’s order follows that guideline.
Not included in the order is the way in which people will be advised to cooperate. However, Governor Jindal does state that to date, the Federal government has failed to outline or implement protections at the national level that would prevent the Ebola virus from entering the United States.
He added that this type of threat can be reduced simply by implementing precautionary but also common sense measures pertaining to public employees, as well as faculty, students, and staff members of universities, the very people who often travel to West African countries.
Governor Jindal has been outspoken regarding his concerns that appropriate action in the form of a blanket travel ban is not being taken. He stresses such a ban is critical, especially after two nurses in Texas who cared for Eric Thomas Duncan, the first patient to die from Ebola in the US after entering the country from Liberia, were also diagnosed.
The Obama Administration states that implementing a travel ban would create huge problems in delivering critical resources such as medicine and healthcare workers to West African countries. Jeh Johnson, Secretary for Homeland Security said in an announcement today that each of the five airports through which travelers from West African countries can enter the United States now have additional screening measures in place.
In a statement released earlier this month, Josh Earnest, White House Press Secretary, confirmed that the Obama Administration is not currently considering a travel ban since it is confident the implemented multi-layered screening system is sufficient.