- The Washington Times - Friday, October 10, 2014

Prominent Texas Republicans requested Friday that the Homeland Security Department add two of their state’s international airports to the list where officers will be doing extra screening to try to weed out passengers with Ebola.

After the first U.S.-diagnosed case of Ebola came in Dallas, Sen. John Cornyn and Rep. Michael McCaul asked U.S. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske to add Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport to the five other airports already on the list.

“Because those traveling from Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia can transit to the United States from many other countries, we have concerns that the current decision to screen only at five airports may not adequately protect Americans and others traveling to America from the Ebola virus,” the two lawmakers said.

On Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, whose department oversees CBP, said they chose the five airports — one each in Virginia, New Jersey, New York, Illinois and Atlanta — because they handle 94 percent of the passengers traveling from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, which are the three countries seeing an Ebola outbreak.

“Where do the other 6 percent arrive?” Mr. Cornyn and Mr. McCaul wondered in their letter.

Mr. Johnson, in his remarks Thursday, said that only about 150 people from the three affected countries arrive in the U.S. a day, and there are no direct flights, so they transfer at other airports, mostly in Europe.

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He said passengers are already screened at outgoing airports in the affected West African countries, but said the new screening at the five U.S. airports will involve passengers filling out a sheet listing their contact information and where they will be for the next three weeks, which is the potential incubation time for the virus. The five airports are Dulles International in Virginia, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey, John F. Kennedy International in New York, Chicago O’Hare International in Illinois and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International in Georgia.

“Additionally, we’re going to have temperature checks. Every passenger who comes in from the three countries, through a noncontact thermometer, we’re going to have this in place as early as this weekend at the five airports,” Mr. Johnson said. “My goal is that we create internationally as many different checkpoints as possible for travelers who go through the system.”



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