Texas Rep. Steve Stockman thinks Ebola is a deadly serious threat to the United States. “I really am worried about the way the they are handling this,” he told The Daily Caller. “I don’t think they know what they are doing.”
“I know you want some snarky jokes but I mean, it’s Ebola!”
Last week the first American case of Ebola was discovered in Dallas, Texas, and a Liberian national is now in critical condition at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital.
Stockman compared U.S. policy in response to the outbreak unfavorably with the response of African nations, warning that the epidemic will spread “if the president doesn’t take initiatives, as countries in Africa have by the way, to stop or control immigration from those countries.”
“I have to say that I think that as a first step we should at least take everybody’s temperature, at a minimum, who comes into the United States,” he added. “I know there is some pre-screening, but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to screen them again when they land.”
Stockman defended his views, saying: “I don’t think its racist, I don’t think it’s ill-advised to do a double check to try to see if we can stop more people with Ebola from getting into this country.”
The congressman pointed out that Thomas Duncan, the Liberian national who brought Ebola to the United States, had lied about having the disease in order to board a plane to America. “The current individual in Dallas lied about not being in contact with Ebola and the government of Liberia is potentially going to prosecute him for that.”
Stockman added, “I think we need to make penalties for those that lie” about having been in contact with Ebola, but noted that in the case of Duncan it would be superfluous, “he’s apparently in a coma, or an induced coma, and he’s very sick.”
“But,” he says, “preventing more people coming in is just sound advice. South Africa and other African countries are doing exactly that.” He then criticized President Barack Obama’s lack of action: “We need to be a leader in stepping up and making sure that we stop any more people from getting into the United States who might have the potential to spread the disease.”
When asked whether he thought the government ought to restrict entry to the country, he responded: “That’s a separate issue,” but added “if we don’t get in control of our borders its going to be very easy for someone who might mean us harm to come across our borders.”
“It just makes common sense for us to have better control of who’s coming across.”
Stockman said the links between immigration and disease in general are unknown, but that “there might be correlation between respiratory disease and kids that are coming across, because it is breaking out all over the country and we don’t know to what degree there’s a correlation between those children that came across in the last six months, whether they brought some communicable disease to school, we don’t know.”
He doubted whether the federal government was ready to handle an Ebola outbreak in the U.S. “The government in general is not always capable of doing things right. I know, having experienced on a personal level how frustrating its been dealing with government,” he went on to cite the challenges people faced signing up for Obamacare.
Depite these misgivings, Stockman said that removing government from the equation was not a good idea, “we should have the government participating with the private sector and stopping this.” He praised the government and private sector collaboration on the development of new vaccines, but added “I’d like to see more vigorous interactions with pharma, in stopping not just this disease but other diseases that potentially could cause great harm.”
Stockman strongly criticized Obama’s order to send 3,000 troops to Africa to fight Ebola. “As far as I know this administration has not issued any public plan as to what they are going to do.”
He added that more oversight was needed to make sure that, “whatever they’re planning, they do it right.” The congressman expressed concerns about how well suited the military was to take over a health care related role.
Stockman said he found the president’s military-focused approach particularly ironic: “For a guy who hates the military he sure uses it a lot!”