From the initial start of the outbreak, it didn’t take Republicans very long to attempt to personally profit from the health crisis revolving the Ebola virus. After the first person diagnosed in the U.S. came down with the sickness in Dallas, Texas, the Texas Republican Party were practically tripping over themselves to see who would benefit the most from this tremendous misfortune.
Leading the pack are Gov. Rick Perry and U.S. Senator Ted Cruz.
In a TribTalk post, Cruz wasted no time in blaming President Obama and demanding a flight ban on African countries stricken with the virus:
We need to do everything we can to contain this outbreak, to help the people who are suffering in Africa and to prevent this epidemic from spreading. But our first priority must be to protect the health and safety of American citizens. The Constitution sets forth the federal government’s responsibility to “provide for the common defense.” That should be the president’s focus.
Initially, Perry shied away from demanding a flight ban, yet joined the chorus after Cruz and Sen. Dan Patrick began to rile Republicans in favor of the ban. You can watch Perry address the situation at a press conference held at the capitol last week:
Yet, Cruz didn’t just stop there and went one step further than Perry and Patrick. Cruz used the crisis as an opportunity to demand “…[W]e must also secure our borders and better protect our troops,” further militarization of our border communities as safety measures against Ebola:
“U.S. Marine Corps Gen. John F. Kelly recently raised concerns about the potential spread of Ebola into Central and South America. Should the disease spread to Haiti or Central America, Kelly said, people in those nations “will run away from Ebola, or if they suspect they are infected, they will try to get to the United States for treatment.”
But before Republicans continue to blame the president, call for an international flight ban or try to use the crisis for personal gains, they might want to take a closer look at how the state could have better handled the initial Ebola response in Dallas.
Numerous options available as a response were not taken by Texas officials.
Reported by the Texas Tribune, Texas “had full legal power from day one to order travel restrictions or impose quarantines on nurses or other health sector workers,” safety precautions Republican statewide officials didn’t bother taking. Now, Republicans would rather blame the president for not doing their jobs.
Instead protecting people’s lives, Republicans have chosen in hindsight to blame the president for their own inadequacies.
Unfortunately for all of us, Republicans are choosing to play politics with people again. This time, their call for a flight ban on West African countries might endanger more people’s lives than save them.
According to Dr. Isabelle Nuttall, director of the World Health Organization’s Global Capacity Alert and Response, “[the]risk of Ebola transmission on airplanes is so low, WHO does not consider air transport hubs at high risk for further spread of Ebola.”
“Unlike infections such as influenza or tuberculosis, Ebola is not airborne. It can only be transmitted by direct contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick with the disease.”
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warns against banning flights to and from West African countries as measures used to combat the disease. “Right now we know who’s coming in. If we try to eliminate travel, it’s possible that some come from…other places, [and]we won’t know where they’ve been,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden.
Frieden argued these international restrictions would be counterproductive, as they would impede aid efforts from reaching Ebola-stricken countries. A top priority should be to combat the disease there. Eliminating any risks there will also prevent the virus from continuing to spread elsewhere in the world.
Perry and Cruz might want to listen to health officials. And, while we’re on topic here, perhaps Republicans should also consider providing adequate funding to our public heath departments. A lot of people’s lives are on the line here. There’s no room for this crisis to turn into another one of Rick Perry’s “oops” moments.