Two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. should restrict travel from Ebola-stricken nations despite the federal government's firm opposition, according to a new poll.
The broad support for a travel ban, which federal officials have repeatedly dismissed, reflects widespread dissatisfaction with how the Obama administration has handled the global Ebola epidemic.
Nearly two-thirds of people said they are concerned about a U.S. epidemic, but nearly the same amount said they are at least somewhat confident that the government and their local healthcare providers could prevent an outbreak.
Most Americans though are not worried about themselves or their families catching the deadly virus, which has killed 4,000 people in West Africa and one person in the U.S.
Fears of catching Ebola are lower than fears of catching swine flu in October 2009, but higher than fears of catching SARS in April 2003, according to the analysis from Langer Research Associates, which produced the poll.
Ebola fears vary greatly by level of education. Although 62 percent of people without high school degrees say they’re afraid of contracting Ebola, just 20 percent of people with postgraduate degrees say they are worried.
Political party is also a major factor. Nearly three-quarters of conservative Republicans say they’re afraid of a widespread epidemic in the U.S., compared with 45 percent of liberal Democrats.
Both parties overwhelmingly support stronger measures in U.S. airports, with 91 percent of people in favor of enhanced screenings.
Five airports have already been targeted for stricter screening, which the Obama administration said will catch 94 percent of travelers from West Africa. Lawmakers in other states, such as Texas and Minnesota, are urging the government to add screenings in more U.S. airports. But federal officials have warned that there is still no way to reduce the risk to zero until the epidemic overseas is controlled.
Federal officials have rejected calls for a travel ban, which has earned the support of dozens of prominent Republicans.
Global health experts have warned that the move would actually worsen the crisis by restricting resources to the affected areas and airline officials have maintained that travel is safe.
A poll conducted last week found that 58 percent of people were in favor of travel restrictions, which suggests that support for the measure is rising as the crisis deepens in West Africa.
The ABC/Washington Post poll, which was conducted from Oct. 9 to 12, included 1,006 adults. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.