U.S. lawmakers have grown increasingly concerned about the prospect of Ebola making its way to America. Some officials fear that people who are infected could try to hide their symptoms in order to travel to the U.S. where health facilities are better equipped to treat patients. Others are concerned that the virus could mutate in a way that makes it easier to spread, according to The Hill.
“If the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us,” President Barack Obama said Tuesday during a briefing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia. “This is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security; it’s a potential threat to global security.”
The president said that the U.S. has worked with officials in countries where the virus has taken hold to ramp up screenings at airports “so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States,” he said. Obama also said that if someone with Ebola were to come to the U.S., hospitals there are prepared to quickly identify and treat the deadly disease.
U.S. lawmakers discussed the outbreak in Washington this week and whether it could come to the U.S.
“I am worried because many people, who — I’m told — have the symptoms are afraid to say anything. Their local governments will quarantine them and not treat them, so they’ll just die. Some of them, in desperation, get on airplanes to get out of the country to save their lives,” Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin told The Hill.
The Ebola outbreak in West Africa has killed an estimated 2,400 people and is expected to infect thousands more. The virus kills about half of the people who contract it.
Obama said Tuesday that the U.S. would send around 3,000 troops to Liberia to aid in the fight against Ebola. Troops will set up a military command center in the country’s capital as well as new training facilities, medical facilities and an air bridge.