NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino called Tuesday for the U.S. to issue a travel ban from Ebola-affected countries, but Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo said the idea isn’t practical.
Astorino, speaking outside the United Nations building, didn’t attack the governor directly on the issue, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported. But with an Ebola patient in Dallas and a nurse with the virus in Spain, Astorino said there are questions about the screening of travelers from West Africa.
The Westchester County executive said checking boxes on a health form and having agents take travelers’ temperatures is not foolproof.
“We need to start playing a little offense and stop it where it is, contain it where it is, but have an international call for help,” Astorino said.
“God help us if Ebola comes into New York because we were afraid to offend someone.”
The flight ban should be temporary until proper safeguards are in place, and the travel of health care personnel should not be impacted, Astorino said.
WEB EXTRA: More Information About Ebola From CDC
Ebola is believed to have killed more than 3,500 people, according to the World Health Organization. Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea have been the hardest hit.
Cuomo told WCBS 880’s Marla Diamond shutting out travelers from those countries won’t work.
“Because you’ll just fly to another country, and then you’ll come in from that country,” he said.
Cuomo said state officials are taking the threat very seriously, adding that the first line of defense is people in the transportation industry.
“We’re working with Customs on increasing the screenings and policing the screenings, if you will,” he said.
Cuomo pointed to the Dallas case as a cautionary tale — in which a man who was apparently exposed to Ebola in Liberia was allowed to fly to Texas. Cuomo said screeners might be asking the right questions, but authorities need to verify the answers.
CDC Eyes Travel Changes
The CDC is looking to impose tougher Ebola screenings at U.S. airports for people arriving from hot spots in West Africa, CBS 2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“What that would look like is under discussion, but likely retaking the temperature and asking some additional questions so that you have screening at both the exit and at the entry end,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “That’s the thing that’s on the table right now.”
In addition, Sen. Charles Schumer said other proposals under consideration include:
• Having passengers fill out a detailed CDC health form to detect contact to Ebola
• Screening cargo ship personnel
• Creating a database of passengers flying to and from West Africa.
“I can assure you that we will be taking additional steps, and we will be making those public in the coming days once we can work out the details,” CDC Director Tom Frieden said.
U.S. authorities say banning flights from West Africa would backfire.
“That isolates the countries to the point where it makes it very difficult for them to control the epidemic,” Fauci said. “And if that happens, it’ll spread to other African countries, and then you’ll magnify the problem and make it even worse than it is.”
Meanwhile, the Coast Guard has taken action to prevent the disease from reaching U.S. shores.
The sector covering Long Island Sound issued a bulletin Tuesday saying it will contact ships that have recently been to Ebola-affected countries. They’ll ask whether passengers have symptoms of the virus before the ships are allowed into port.
Mayor: NYC Is Ready
On Monday, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters he is “very confident” that the city’s hospital system could handle a potential Ebola outbreak.
De Blasio touted the city’s public health system, the ability of its first responders and its ties to the leadership of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“I feel very bad for what happened in Texas, but I can safely say that we have a much more aggressive and coherent game plan,” the mayor told reporters, including WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb.
The Dallas patient, who is critically ill, was initially given antibiotics and sent home from the emergency room. Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S., is hospitalized and receiving an experimental medication.
De Blasio said that if anyone in New York suspects they have Ebola, they should call 911 or rush to the nearest emergency room.
Health officials said Tuesday they’ve received calls from New York City physicians about 88 potential Ebola cases since August, but the disease was never detected. Dr. Isaac Benowitz told the city’s Board of Health that of those 88, only 11 of the people displayed symptoms of the disease and had recently come from one of the West African countries where it is rampant.
Benowitz said nine ended up having malaria and one had typhoid. None displayed symptoms during the flight to New York.
Health officials detailed the measures they’ve been taking in recent months to prepare in the event an infected person comes to the nation’s most populous city.
Malloy OKs Quarantines
In Connecticut on Tuesday, Gov. Dannel Malloy signed an order authorizing the state’s public health commissioner to quarantine anyone who has been exposed to the deadly virus.
The move is precautionary, and no specific case of the disease has been identified in the state.
“Quite frankly, we just want to be ready,” Malloy told WCBS 880’s Steve Scott. “We understand we’re in close proximity to JFK (Airport). We have major medical centers in Connecticut. It’s not impossible that people will seek treatment here in Connecticut. And we want to be in a situation where we can handle that.”
Without the governor’s order, the decision to quarantine would be left up to each community health official.
“We thought it would be better to actually have a state set of rules that would apply universally in the state of Connecticut,” Malloy said.
Protein Sciences Lab in Meriden, Conn., hopes to win early approval for a vaccine that would aid the body in fighting off the Ebola virus, WCBS 880’s Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau reports.
Manon Cox, CEO, says it does not contain a live virus, but tricks the immune system into making antibodies before the virus strikes
“Since this is approaching and proteins really cannot do any harm, they may want to consider using this protein prior to completing the full testing that could be required,” Cox said.
Healthcare workers in areas where people have been infected by Ebola stand to benefit from the vaccine, Cox said, stressing that the protein-based vaccine poses no risk.
Five Americans have returned to the U.S. from Africa for treatment since the start of the Ebola outbreak.
Video journalist Ashoka Mukpo, who became infected while working in Liberia, arrived at the Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha on Monday. It’s not clear how he was infected, according to his father.
The others were aid workers — three have recovered and one remains hospitalized.
There are no approved drugs for Ebola, so doctors have tried experimental treatments in some cases.
“The important way you prevent an outbreak from occurring is you do what’s called ‘contact tracing.’ You identify the individuals that came into contact with this individual and you monitor them for a period of 21 days, which is the incubation period for the infection,” Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told WCBS 880.
Dr. Fauci said people should not be overly concerned with an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. because it is “extraordinarily unlikely,” due to the fact that the U.S. has a healthcare system that is capable to do the types of isolation and contact tracings that would prevent the virus’s spread.
Meanwhile in Madrid, three more people were put under quarantine for possible Ebola at a hospital where a Spanish nurse became infected, authorities said Tuesday. More than 50 others were being monitored as experts tried to figure out why Spain’s anti-infection practices failed.
The nurse, part of a special team that cared for a Spanish priest who died of Ebola last month, was the first case of Ebola being transmitted outside of West Africa. Health authorities are investigating how she became infected.
Her case highlighted the dangers health care workers face while caring for Ebola patients — officials said she had changed a diaper for the priest and collected material from his room after he died. Dead Ebola victims are highly infectious and in West Africa their bodies are collected by workers in hazmat outfits.
You May Also Be Interested In These Stories
[display-posts category=”news” posts_per_page=”4″]
(TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)