CDC: 91 passengers at JFK airport flagged for Ebola screenings

CDC: 91 passengers at JFK airport flagged for Ebola screenings
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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Tom Frieden said Monday that 91 passengers had been flagged for additional Ebola screening at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport. 

“Ninety-one such individuals were identified, none of them had fever,” Frieden said during a press briefing. “Five of them were referred for additional evaluation for CDC. None were deemed to have exposure to Ebola."

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Kennedy airport is one of five in the U.S. where passengers arriving from West African countries battling the deadly disease receive extra checks for symptoms. The Obama administration has also implemented the additional screenings at Newark Liberty, Washington Dulles, O’Hare in Chicago and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

The screenings, which began Saturday, come amid heightened fears about the outbreak spreading to the U.S. following the recent death of Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.

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.

This weekend, a Dallas nurse who treated Duncan also was diagnosed with Ebola, becoming the first U.S. transmission of the virus.

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

But lawmakers in Texas and Minnesota are pressing for the screenings to be expanded to airports in their states.

Some lawmakers, including Democrats, have also called for a complete ban on flights from West African nations that are battling Ebola.

Friedman said Monday that 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.

"On issue of banning travel, I understand that there are calls to do this,” he said. “I really tried to focus on the bottom line here. The bottom line is reducing risks to Americans. ... Stop it at the source in Africa.”

Friedman said a flight ban would make it "much harder to stop the outbreak at the source."

“It would spread for more months and potentially to other countries,” he said.  

—Sarah Ferris contributed to this report.