- The Washington Times - Friday, October 24, 2014

The House’s top investigator on Friday outlined a laundry list of problems with the U.S. response to Ebola, setting a tough tone at the start of an oversight hearing on efforts to fight the virus.

Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, repeatedly questioned the Obama administration’s ability to track the virus and guide local officials through the fight.

A Dallas hospital turned away the Liberian man who first brought Ebola to the U.S. when he presented symptoms, only to admit him days later when his condition worsened. He died on Oct. 8, and two nurses contracted the virus from him.

The second nurse gained clearance to fly on a commercial airline despite treating the man, Thomas Eric Duncan, and presenting a slight fever.

“We need to know why there have been breakdowns,” Mr. Issa said.

The urgency of Friday’s hearing before the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform took on new urgency late Thursday, when New York City officials confirmed that a 33-year-old doctor, Craig Spencer, had tested positive for Ebola after treating patients in West Africa.

Dr. Spencer left Guinea on Oct. 14 and traveled through Brussels before arriving at JFK Airport last Friday, New York City officials said.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz praised Dr. Spencer for volunteering in Guinea, but he had reservations about the process for Americans who come home from Ebola’s front lines in West Africa.

“I don’t buy into the idea of a self-quarantine. That’s obviously not working,” the Utah Republican told CNN’s “New Day.” “And we’re sending a lot of mixed signals and I think that’s part of the discussion this morning as well.”

The oversight committee’s top Democrat, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, also hailed volunteers in West Africa and said the outbreak must be addressed “at its source.”

Despite the rival parties’ shared sentiments, Republicans are urging President Obama to reconsider his opposition to a ban on elective travel between the U.S. and countries reeling from Ebola.

“As long as Ebola continues to ravage West Africa, the threat remains that it could spread to the United States and other countries around the world,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton, Michigan Republican. “This is precisely why so many members of Congress are pressing the administration for a clear strategy as well as any and all appropriate travel restrictions to address this crisis and protect the public health. With a disease as deadly as Ebola, we cannot afford to be reactive, developing plans ‘on the fly.’”

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