NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Customs and health officials at Newark Liberty Airport are taking the temperatures of passengers from three West African countries as part of a stepped up Ebola screening program.

Federal health officials say the entry screenings that started Thursday add another layer of protection to halt the spread of the Ebola virus that has killed thousands. Screeners will use no-touch thermometers to try to find passengers with fevers.

READ MORE: 1 Dead, 5 Police Officers Among 7 Injured In Suspected Gas Explosion At Bronx Home

EXTRAS: Fact Sheet On Ebola Screenings | More From The CDC | Ebola Q & A With Dr. Jonathan LaPook 

The screenings started at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Saturday. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said screenings also began Thursday at Washington Dulles, Chicago O’Hare, and Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta.

Customs officials say about 150 people travel daily from or through Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to the United States. Nearly 95 percent of them land first at one of those five airports.

Damien Afam Okekee, who was traveling from West Africa to Newark, had his temperature taken both before he boarded his flight and once he landed in the U.S.

“When they screen, they stamp and document that you’ve been screened,” he told CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell.

Some passengers said they’re also taking their own precautions.

“Try and wash my hands, be aware of people sneezing,” said traveler Glenis Wiber. “I’m a little more aware than normal.”

“I’m glad that they’re testing,” another traveler, who brought along latex gloves and a surgical mask for her flight, told 1010 WINS’ John Montone. “If I saw other people wearing it, I was going to wear it.”

Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner, increased calls for travel bans or visa suspensions from the three West African countries and urged the administration to take other measures to secure the transportation system.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said better testing tools are on the way from the federal government, adding that he had “real concerns about the freedom of travel,” WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported.

“Is it enough? Probably not. But on the other hand, right now it’s the best we can do and when there’s more testing available, which we understand they are going to give us more aggressive tools at Newark to screen where appropriate, then we’ll be ready to do that,” he said on New Jersey 101.5.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey said Wednesday that it is distributing sealed “hi-risk kits” to 2,000 police officers at all three area airports.

The kit contains a face mask with eye shields, non-latex gloves, a disinfecting handwipe and a red “biohazard” bag for infectious materials.

READ MORE: As NYC, Teachers Union Discuss Remote Option, Mayor Adams Reiterates 'Our Schools Are Going To Remain Open'

The NYPD has also issued rules on what officers should do if they come into contact with someone who exhibits Ebola symptoms.

The police department instructions include steps that say members should stay at least three feet away from the individual, should use their patrol kit that contains gloves, a gown and a facial covering and only touch the individual when absolutely necessary.

Police Commissioner Bill Bratton says meetings are ongoing about preparing the NYPD and other agencies with information and the equipment they need to handle a potentially infected patient.

“Part of what we’ll be looking at is inventory of what we have, trying to get to the best of our ability, instructions out to all of our personnel as the learning curve is continuing on this issue,” he said.

The FDNY has ordered that only specially trained EMS crews are to be dispatched for calls for patients with a fever who have traveled to West Africa.

“New York City is in a very high state of readiness and I think the federal government is very satisfied at the kind of preparations we’ve put in place,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “But we’ll keep working to perfect them every day.”

The federal government is ramping up its response to the Ebola crisis after a second Dallas nurse became ill and it was disclosed that she had been cleared to fly a day before her diagnosis.

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the CDC, said nurse Amber Joy Vinson never should have been allowed to fly on a commercial jetliner because she had been exposed to the virus while caring for an Ebola patient who traveled to the U.S. from Liberia.

Ebola was not on the agenda at New Jersey’s Homeland Security Conference Thursday, which as WCBS 880’s Levon Putney reported, raises the question of whether or not it is a homeland security concern.

“I guess it depends on who you ask, it’s definitely a public health issue for sure,” Andrew Caruso said, the operations director for the Monmouth Ocean Hospital Service group that handles EMS response to large events.

Caruso says his staff is taking cues from the CDC and other agencies on how to handle any Ebola scare.

“We have our staff doing things that are extremely conservative as far as protecting themselves and each other,” he said.

Check Out These Other Stories From
[display-posts category=”news” wrapper=”ul” posts_per_page=”4″]

MORE NEWS: Free COVID Tests Now Available Online Through USPS

(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.)