Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tom Frieden said Wednesday that new procedures for screening Ebola at five major U.S. airports won't cover all the roughly 150 passengers that arrive each day from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, but will cover about 95 percent of those passengers.
The Obama administration announced earlier in the day that it would soon set up enhanced screening at JFK in New York, as well as the Newark Dulles, Chicago and Atlanta airports. Frieden said that will cover most, but not all, of people coming from the three West African nations.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden said Wednesday that new airport screening measures will cover 95 percent, but not all, of the people coming from countries suffering from Ebola. (AP Photo/Johnny Clark)
"These five airports represent about 94 nearly 95 percent of all the 150 travelers per day who arrive from these three countries," he said.
Frieden and other officials have rejected the idea of banning flights from the three countries, a step they said would complicate efforts to fight the virus. In contrast, several members of Congress have called on officials to shut down incoming flights entirely, after one man was able to fly to the United States before showing symptoms of Ebola.
That man, Thomas Duncan, died from the virus early Wednesday morning.
Possible cases of Ebola, including one patient in Texas, have kept health officials and the public on high alert about whether another case could be diagnosed. So far, however, Obama administration officials appear to be confident in the CDC's finding that Ebola cannot spread from people who are not showing symptoms.
Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas, who participated in the briefing with Frieden, said that the customs officials who will screen incoming passengers at the five U.S. airports won't be wearing any protective gear at all.
"The individual Customs and Border Protection officers will not be wearing masks," he said. "That's been the medical assessment of the need right now."