How Effective Would A Travel Ban Be Against Countries With Ebola?

America’s politicians and pundits are engaged in a bitter debate over what to do about the Ebola non-crisis. One of the most fervently argued issues is whether or not to implement a travel ban against countries that are having a problem with Ebola.

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Let’s set aside for the moment that the United States is one of those countries, and that conservatives believe that because of our allegedly incompetent president, porous borders, and lax security, it is just going to get worse. So you’d have to ask if the the wingnuts want a travel ban on America.

The remaining arguments center on what benefits and harm will result from a ban on travel. Right-wing politicos have lined up on the side of a ban arguing that it would keep infected persons out of the U.S. On the other side are doctors, scientists, and other public health experts who assert that a ban would serve no purpose because people could still travel to places without a ban and continue on from there to the U.S. In the process they would have slipped though existing monitoring and tracking procedures. In addition, a ban would present an obstacle to the flow of doctors and supplies to the areas that need them most.

What I haven’t seen in any discussion on this topic is a straightforward, unbiased look at the relevant statistics associated with a travel ban. So here is what we are really talking about.

First of all, there is already a de facto ban due to the fact that there are no direct flights on U.S. carriers from the affected West African countries to the United States. However, travelers originating from those countries do arrive here via connections in other countries. The total is estimated to be about 150 per day.

The first (and only) infected West African to arrive in the U.S. was Thomas Eric Duncan. He was a Liberian who began his travel on September 19, without noticeable symptoms. He later became ill and eventually died in a Dallas hospital.

It’s difficult to pinpoint when the risk for Ebola-infected travelers began. So let’s just begin counting on the day that Duncan arrived in the U.S. From then it has been 28 days. With 150 travelers from the affected West African countries arriving every day for 28 days, there have been 4,200 people arriving here from the troubled region. And out of that 4,200 people there has been one – that’s ONE – who became ill with Ebola. That’s 0.0024% of the travelers from West Africa. And for that Republicans and wingnut pundits want to impose a total ban on travel that experts insist will make matters worse.

Three other people with Ebola (all Americans) came home to the U.S. for treatment. They all survived, and no one at any of the hospitals where they were treated became ill. The only transmissions (two so far) occurred at the Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital that treated Duncan.

Just thought you’d like to know.


10 thoughts on “How Effective Would A Travel Ban Be Against Countries With Ebola?

  1. As usual Republicans and right wingers don’t let facts and logic interfere with their grandstanding and fear mongering.

  2. Considering that people travel between Europe and Africa frequently, and without the paranoia-demanded passports requred for US citizens crossing borders, a ban on travellers coming from afflicted East African countries is worse than useless.

  3. So are you suggesting that we stop running around like Chicken Little screaming at the tops of our lungs that the end is neigh? Do you have any idea the amount of damage this could do to the Fear Mongering industry not to mention the suppliers of Wing Nuttery and Right Wing Hysterics?

    If we don’t embrace fear then what will keep up warm in our beds at night?

  4. No one ever asked the GOP why they did not have a similar reaction to the SARs outbreak when it happened. SARs was way more virulent than Ebola being airborne and quit a few countries were affected. No panic attack from the right though.

  5. The interesting thing is that conservatives will walk into an incredibly destructive solution to a situation that isn’t an immediate threat and create a real problem.

  6. One little nit to pick. It is not 0.0024% , but 0.024%

  7. Experts Research Support Ebola Travel Ban and Scientific analysis shows airport screening ineffective.

    Thanks to Obama’s No Travel Ban policy America is now the country with the greatest number of Ebola cases outside West Africa! And, Obama continues to use his expert yes men to oppose and stop a travel ban! And, much more to come America!

    New York – A team of physicians with experience in epidemiology and health science research applying scientific methods and statistical analysis have concluded that as long as travel from West Africa remains open, there is no way to stop the international spread of Ebola.

    Researchers: Can’t Stop Ebola Without Travel Ban
    wnd. com/2014/10/researchers-cant-stop-ebola-without-travel-ban/

    Experts Research Support Ebola Travel Ban and Scientific analysis shows airport screening ineffective.

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