Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Tom Frieden on Thursday lost the support of two Republican members of the House who are also doctors, as one called for Frieden's removal, and the other called for a House vote on imposing an Ebola-related travel ban.
Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.) released a statement saying the first step to combating Ebola should be to remove Frieden for failing to be more careful about stopping the spread of Ebola in the United States.
Republicans are losing faith in the ability of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr. Tom Frieden to control Ebola in the United States and ensure the health of Americans. (AP Photo/Johnny Clark)
The CDC allowed infected nurse Amber Vinson to fly from Cleveland to Dallas this week, even after she reported a light fever. Frieden later said Vinson should not have flown, and Gosar said as a result that he should be removed for "gross incompetence" and failing to lead the CDC.
"The protection of the American people is the most important role of our government," Gosar said. "CDC Director Thomas Frieden has failed to lead and has shown gross incompetence in his actions or lack thereof to prevent the spread of Ebola domestically."
"We cannot afford such mistakes when American lives are at risk," he added. "That is why I am calling for the immediate resignation of Director Friedan."
Gosar's statement came out as a House subcommittee hearing was hearing testimony from Frieden, and as Republicans continued to press him on why he doesn't support a ban on people coming from Ebola-ravaged nations. With no sign of support for any travel restrictions in the Obama administration, another GOP doctor, Rep. Michael Burgess (R-Texas), said the committee should request a House vote on whether to ban travel.
"Mr. Chairman, I think perhaps this committee should consider forwarding to the full House a request that we have a vote on travel restriction, because people are asking us to do that, and I think they are exactly correct to make that request," Burgess said during a subcommittee hearing Thursday.
Burgess is one of a growing number of Republicans who say the U.S. should block the entry of anyone traveling from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone until the Ebola outbreak is resolved in those countries. But Democrats and the Obama administration have said a travel ban could backfire and make the Ebola outbreak worse in West Africa, which could ultimately put more Americans at risk.
Officials have struggled to convince Republicans that travel should remain open. In the hearing, Frieden made his most explicit case yet for why the U.S. should not impose a travel ban on people out of West Africa, by saying the current system makes it easier for health officials to track those people.
"Right now we know who's coming in," he said. "If we try to eliminate travel, the possibility that some will travel over land, will come from other places… will mean that we won't be able to do multiple things."
He said a ban would make it harder for health officials to monitor people as they leave and arrive for symptoms, ask them for details about the contacts they might have had. "We wouldn't be able to provide all of that information as we do now to state and local health departments so that they can monitor them under supervision," he said.