Mark Caserta: President failed to be proactive in dealing with Ebola

30 Oct

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Oct. 30, 2014 @ 12:24 AM

The Obama administration has consistently demonstrated an inability to proactively think a policy through its unintended consequences. And any “common sense” option seems always to be circumvented for the purpose of protecting this president politically. The reaction to the Ebola outbreak has been no different.

Common sense dictates containing the Ebola virus at its source until it can be eradicated. But with an estimated 150 people traveling to the United States each day from West Africa, travel restrictions alone would be insufficient since there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from countries hardest hit by the virus to any U.S. airport. All new visas to the U.S. for citizens of Ebola-stricken nations would need to be banned until the outbreak has been controlled period.

And as fear of an outbreak in the U.S. escalates, the idea of such a travel ban is gaining momentum among House and Senate Republicans.

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, became the latest Republican lawmaker to announce plans to introduce a measure that would temporarily ban new visas for people from the countries of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. The bill, which Rubio plans to introduce when the Senate returns after the Nov. 4 mid-term elections, would go into effect immediately and continue until the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention certifies that the outbreak has been contained. It could also be expanded to any future countries experiencing an outbreak of the virus.

But at this point, these precautions are like closing the barn door after the horses have bolted. The Obama administration has mishandled the Ebola situation from the very beginning.

The first Ebola patient, a teenage boy now known as “patient zero,” was identified in the West African country of Guinea way back in December 6, 2013. The boy died from the disease.

By March 24, 2014, authorities in Guinea reported 87 suspected cases of Ebola. Soon after, Liberia and Sierra Leone began reporting cases of the dreadful disease. By late September Ebola was reported as “out of control” in West Africa and “unprecedented” in its scope.

But even by Sept. 16, when Obama reassured Americans the chances of an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. were “extremely low,” he had incredulously failed to institute any travel restrictions from infected regions.

Finally, amid increasing pressure, President Obama instituted restrictions for travelers flying into the U.S. from the heavily impacted West African countries. Beginning last Wednesday passengers will be funneled through international airports in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago and Newark, New Jersey. These five airports will reportedly have specialized Ebola screening steps.

In preparation, Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey announced last week a joint policy mandating a 21-day quarantine for anyone flying into their states after having contact with Ebola sufferers in West Africa.

But President Obama should have been more proactive in his approach to dealing with this deadly disease. His hesitation to act has needlessly placed Americans at risk. One can only pray this doesn’t end in catastrophe for Americans.

Mark Caserta is a conservative blogger, a Cabell County resident and a regular contributor to The Herald-Dispatch editorial page.

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