Obama Admin Ups Ebola Travel Restrictions Again

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Federal officials will begin actively monitoring all travelers coming from Ebola-stricken countries starting Monday, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention director Tom Frieden announced Wednesday. 

Customs and Border Protection officials will collect contact information for all passengers coming to the U.S. From Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, including email, two phone numbers and a physical U.S. address, Frieden said in a briefing Wednesday. Travelers will then be actively monitored by the CDC and state health authorities for 21 days.

It’s a small shift from the CDC’s prior policy of simply collecting contact information from passengers from Ebola countries, but it’s the second day in a row the administration has moved toward stricter travel restrictions for those at risk of carrying Ebola. On Tuesday, the Department of Homeland Security announced that all travelers from the three affected countries will be routed through one of five airports where federal officials are screening for Ebola. (RELATED: Obama Changes Ebola Travel Rules)

The Obama administration continues to strongly oppose an all-out ban on travel from West Africa, but the shift toward restricting travel is new. Many Republicans and a growing number of Democrats (especially those up for election in November) support a travel ban.

“These new measures I’m announcing today will give additional levels of safety so that people who develop symptoms of Ebola are isolated quickly,” Frieden said Wednesday.

The travelers will face new rules about where they can travel and will be required to coordinate with state health authorities for monitoring as well.

The CDC’s monitoring of potential Ebola patients came under fire earlier this month when Dallas nurse Amber Vinson, who was being monitored, flew to Cleveland and back while infected with Ebola.

Vinson had a low-grade fever, an early symptom of Ebola, while on the flight. The CDC admitted that it had advised Vinson that she was able to fly on the commercial plane, but Frieden later admitted that this was a mistake.

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Sarah Hurtubise