US Sen. Kirk calls for travel and visa ban for passenegers from Ebola-affected countries

Paige Leskin, City Editor

U.S. Senator Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) urged U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday to stop issuing visas to the citizens of African countries that have been affected by the Ebola virus.

In order to stop further spread and outbreak of the virus in the U.S., Kirk said Kerry should ban all travel from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia, according to a news release from the senator’s office.

“Over 4,400 people have died from Ebola in these acutely affected countries, with nearly 9,000 suspected and confirmed as infected,” Kirk said in the letter to Kerry. “Continuing to issue visas to citizens of these countries puts the American public in harm’s way.”

The senator took a tour of the Ebola screening area at Chicago O’Hare International Airport, which has been named one of five nationwide airports that requires passengers to be screened when they arrive in the U.S. from any of the African countries affected by Ebola. The screenings began in the middle of October at O’Hare.

Kirk reviewed the protocol for the possibility that an Ebola-infected person arrives at the airport with members of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and U.S. Customs and Border Protection, according to the news release.

Bruce Rauner, the Republican candidate running against Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn in the upcoming gubernatorial election, expressed his support in a statement Monday for Kirk’s visa and travel ban.

“Senator Kirk’s proposal is common sense and supported by the vast majority of people in Illinois and America,” Rauner said in the statement. “It has won bi-partisan (sic) support.”

Rauner also used the statement to criticize Quinn’s position against the proposed travel ban in light of the amount of traffic that O’Hare sees every day.

Kirk also called on HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell on Friday to take more steps to ensure medical staff at O’Hare and in Chicago is ready to receive Ebola patients and halt any spread of the virus.

“Our residents need the confidence that the CDC is coordinating with our first responders and hospitals and have clearly defined procedures in place to intercept and treat all infected individuals,” Kirk said in the letter to Burwell.

Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @paigeleskin