Bipartisan support for Ebola travel ban emerges in Florida


By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Two of Florida’s top elected officials are calling on the Obama administration to temporarily ban travel to the United States from Ebola-ravaged West African countries.

U.S. SEN. BILL NELSON: Florida’s senior Democratic senator and Commerce Committee member is calling for a temporary travel restriction from Ebola afflicted countries.

The administration has steadfastly refused calls for travel bans since news of an infected Liberian national, Thomas Eric Duncan, landed in a Texas hospital last week. Duncan died of the virus Wednesday morning.

“This is not a partisan decision. It is a common sense decision,” Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican, said Wednesday.

Scott called for a travel restriction and an all-options-on-the-table approach after meeting with state health and emergency officials and an afternoon conference call with President Obama.

“Florida still does not have any confirmed cases of Ebola, and we hope we never do, but we must continue to do everything possible to keep our citizens and our visitors safe,” Scott said.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Fla., also wants to suspend travel from the afflicted region.

Unlike Scott, Nelson is not up for re-election in November.

Florida’s senior U.S. senator sent a letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urging the administration to take what he considers a necessary precaution.

“It would seem that another means of reducing the chances of exposure to the virus here at home would be to temporarily suspend unnecessary travel to the United States under existing visas and the new issuance of visas for citizens of countries the CDC identifies as areas with high rates of infections,” Nelson wrote.

In addition to the tragic human costs of the deadly virus, areas associated with Ebola could suffer major economic repercussions. Florida’s economy is heavily dependent on domestic and international tourism, and the winter tourist season is just weeks away.

In a statement, Nelson, a member of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, noted the White House told reporters on Monday that, “a travel ban is not something that we’re currently considering.” contacted Florida’s junior U.S. senator, Republican Marco Rubio, in Washington, D.C., several times, but did not receive an immediate response.

The Florida Department of Health says the Ebola virus is spread by directly touching an infected person or animal’s skin, blood or body fluids. People also can be infected by touching objects, such as bed sheets, where the virus can survive for short periods of time.

More than 50 percent of Ebola victims die, but researchers do not know why some survive and some don’t.

According to a Rasmussen poll, 58 percent of Americans favor a temporary flight ban from Ebola afflicted countries.

The survey of 1,000 adults was conducted Oct. 4-5, and has a margin of error of 3 percent.