- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 18, 2014

President Obama said Saturday that a travel ban on Ebola-ridden countries in West Africa could make the crisis worse, and urged Americans not to panic over the outbreak.

Mr. Obama has said he is not philosophically opposed to travel bans but made clear in his weekly address that he does not intend to implement one.

“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa,” Mr. Obama said, arguing that a commercial travel ban would hinder U.S. efforts to stymie the spread of the disease in the region. He added that a travel ban would further motivate people in the region to flee, making it harder to track cases.

“Trying to seal off an entire region of the world — if that were even possible — could actually make the situation worse,” Mr. Obama said.

He predicted that more cases could develop within the United States, but reminded the nation that the disease is not easily transmissible.

“What we’re seeing now is not an ‘outbreak’ or an ‘epidemic’ of Ebola in America,” he said. “This is a serious disease, but we can’t give in to hysteria or fear.”

Conservative lawmakers have called upon the president to implement a travel ban and to cease granting travel visas to non U.S. citizens seeking entry into the country from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz argued that the U.S. could still implement a travel ban while continuing to offer medical support via military transport, and Louisiana Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal called on the president to add all healthcare workers that had been in contact with Ebola patients to the no-fly list.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul argued on CNN that the disease was far more transmissible than the Obama administration has publicly stated. He blasted the president for saying Ebola was just as difficult to catch as the AIDs, citing CDC information that suggested otherwise.

“They say all it takes is direct contact to get this,” Mr. Paul, an ophthalmologist, said. “If you listen carefully, they say being three feet away from someone is direct contact. That’s not what most Americans think is direct contact.”

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