Francis Riviera

Minnesota’s Democratic senators and governor are pressing the Obama administration to expand the Ebola screenings at select airports to include Minneapolis-St. Paul International.

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D) and Al Franken (D) said Monday that the Minneapolis airport, which is the 16th busiest in the U.S., should be added to the list of airports where passengers are checked for symptoms of the deadly disease upon arrival.

{mosads}“The Ebola experience in Dallas, Texas has taught us that even one case of Ebola in our state or country can have devastating consequences,” they wrote in a letter to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden.

“Our request is that the CDC conduct heightened screenings of all passengers with Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea in their travel history when they arrive at MSP [Minneapolis-St. Paul],” they leaders continued. “We hope to work with you to do everything we can to prevent the disease from spreading to Minnesota.”

The Obama administration has implemented additional screenings at airports in New York, New Jersey, Washington, D.C., Chicago and Atlanta in an effort to calm fears about a West African Ebola outbreak spreading to the U.S.

The Minnesota call follows similar requests from health officials in Texas for airports in Houston and Dallas to implement expanded screenings.

Government officials and the airline industry are struggling to assure 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. earlier this month.

Duncan, who died last 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, including Democrats, are calling for a complete ban on flights to West African nations that are battling Ebola. Obama administration officials, though, say a flight ban would harm relief efforts in Africa because it would make it harder to deliver supplies to Ebola-stricken regions of the continent.

Instead, passengers arriving from West Africa at five major U.S. airports are undergoing temperature checks and being asked about their travel histories.

The international airports that have been selected for additional screening are Washington Dulles, John F. Kennedy in New York City, O’Hare in Chicago, Newark Liberty and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

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, though, say that in the early stages of the disease fever-reducing medicines such as Advil could hide symptoms and suggest that some passengers could like on their questionnaires. 

Tags Al Franken Amy Klobuchar Ebola screenings Mark Dayton

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