- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Air passengers who come to the U.S. from West African countries reeling from the Ebola epidemic will be monitored for 21 days after they arrive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday in a major tightening of America’s response to the deadly outbreak.

Director Dr. Tom Frieden said travelers must take their temperature and report the measurements or any Ebola-like symptoms to state and local health officials. They also must report their travel plans, in or out of the state.

“In the event a traveler does not report in, state or local public health officials will take immediate steps to locate the individual to ensure that active monitoring continues on a daily basis,” the CDC said.

The fight to contain the virus in the U.S. got some good news late Wednesday: The family of a Texas nurse who flew to Ohio and was diagnosed with Ebola said doctors no longer detect the virus in her body.

A family statement said officials at Emory University Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention couldn’t detect Ebola in Amber Vinson as of Tuesday evening. The statement said Ms. Vinson’s mother spoke to her Wednesday and the nurse has been approved for transfer from isolation.

Six states that take in 70 percent of affected travelers — New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, and Georgia — have laid the groundwork for enhanced monitoring and will start Monday. The remaining states will roll out their programs in the ensuing days.

SEE ALSO: Ebola-country travelers to be funneled to five airports

One day earlier, the Homeland Security Department said travelers from West Africa must funnel into the U.S. through five international airports equipped to screen passengers for Ebola — New Jersey’s Newark Liberty, New York’s John F. Kennedy, Virginia’s Dulles, Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson and Chicago’s O’Hare.

Travelers will receive a CARE (Check and Report Ebola) kit at the airport to help them follow the new monitoring guidelines.

The White House characterized the move as a federal-state partnership that allows states to tailor their Ebola-tracking programs to their needs.

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama remains opposed to a flat travel ban among passengers from countries like Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, saying it could force travelers underground and hinder efforts to track people at-risk for Ebola.

“He is not philosophically opposed to a travel ban, but it is his view, based on the guidance that he’s received from medical experts and other scientists, that putting in place a travel ban only exposes the American people to more vulnerability at this point,” Mr. Earnest told reporters.

Some lawmakers said half-measures are not good enough.

“Given the seriousness of this situation, the United States should temporarily enact a visa ban on nationals from Ebola-affected countries,” Sen. Dan Coats, Indiana Republican, said. “Ensuring that citizens from these countries cannot enter the United States is a common-sense step to contain this virus and protect American citizens.”

Wednesday’s move coincided with Ron Klain’s first day as the nation’s “Ebola czar” to beef up the U.S. response to the viral disease, which has killed more than 4,000 in West Africa and a Liberian man who traveled to Texas in late September.

Thomas Eric Duncan tested positive for Ebola in late September and died Oct. 8. Two Dallas nurses who treated him have contracted the virus and are being treated at specially equipped treatment centers.

Mr. Obama, who met with Mr. Klain in the afternoon, said he had spoken Wednesday with colleagues of the nurses, 26-year-old Nina Pham and 29-year-old Ms. Vinson, at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. He reported their “spirits were good.”

While he is cautiously optimistic any ripple effect of infection from Duncan has ebbed, he said he remained concerned about the rampant outbreak in West Africa.

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