WSMV-Nashville: Sen. Alexander says U.S. not doing enough to fight Ebola

Posted on October 9, 2014

NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

U.S. government officials will begin checking the temperatures of people arriving from West African beginning this weekend, but Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) said that does not do enough to keep Americans safe.

"We need to screen every single person coming in the United States at an airport from one of the three West African countries," Alexander said.

Those West African countries include Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. They have been hit the hardest by the Ebola outbreak.

Five major U.S. airports will begin the extra level of screening to try to catch travelers from those countries who may be carrying the disease.

Alexander said the fight against Ebola needs the proper leadership in Washington.

"The president needs to, this week, designate a cabinet level official to take charge of all of the emergency operations with Ebola," Alexander said. "Someone needs to be on the flag pole."

Alexander said an immediate way to diagnose Ebola is also a must.

"That means if we see someone at an airport or some other place, we need to be able to immediately determine if that person has Ebola symptoms rather than send that test for the laboratory and wait for it to come back," he said.

Health officials said the extra screening probably wouldn't have found Thomas Eric Duncan, when he arrived from Liberia. Duncan died Wednesday from Ebola.

The new airport screenings will begin Saturday at New York's JFK International Airport. It will then expand to Washington's Dulles International Airport and the international airports in Atlanta, Chicago, and Newark, NJ.