House Dem: Airport Ebola checks ‘may have to be expanded’

A Democratic House member said Friday that increased Ebola screenings that have been implemented at five major U.S. airports may have to be expanded to other cities as officials struggle to calm fears about the deadly disease being spread among airline passengers. 

Rep. Adam SchiffAdam Bennett SchiffInternet security leader: Hackers are 'trying to undermine very process of democracy' Republicans and Democrats alike face troubling signals from voters Schiff blasts GOP for Russia probe conduct: 'That's how you obstruct an investigation, not how you conduct one' MORE (D-Calif.) said during an interview on MSNBC  that the Obama administration’s decision to add additional Ebola screenings at airports in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta was a smart move. 

But Schiff said the screenings, which are taking place at some of the busiest international airports in the U.S., may not be enough to contain the Ebola virus after the first domestic diagnosis of the disease earlier this month. 

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“I think it's a very prudent step,” Schiff said when he was asked about the administration’s decision to expand Ebola testing at U.S. airports. 

“It may be that it has to be expanded in the future,” Schiff continued. “I think we have to have some humility about what we know about the virus when it gets to this point. We haven't had an outbreak quite like this one before. But I think these steps make a lot of sense.” 

Officials from the federal government and commercial airlines have struggled to reassure passengers that it is safe to fly on commercial airplanes since Thomas Eric Duncan became the first person to be diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. last week. 

Duncan, who died on Wednesday, was diagnosed shortly after he flew from Liberia to Dallas on United Airlines. Duncan had a connecting flight at Washington’s Dulles International Airport. 

Some lawmakers have called for a complete ban on flights to West African nations that are battling Ebola. Obama administration officials have said that a flight ban would stunt relief efforts in Africa because it would make it harder to deliver supplies to Ebola-stricken regions of the continent.

The administration has instead moved to reassure people by announcing it would require passengers who are arriving from West African destinations at five major U.S. airports to undergo additional temperature checks and fill out a questionnaire about their travel histories. 

The international airports that have been selected for additional screening are Washington Dulles, John F. Kennedy, O’Hare, Newark Liberty and Hartsfield-Jackson. 

Obama administration officials have said the additional testing in those airports would reach 94 percent of the passengers who are arriving in the U.S. from West Africa. 

Critics have suggested that people could fool authorities by taking Advil to combat fever and lying on the questionnaire.