New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie created an Ebola virus joint response team Wednesday through executive order to help coordinate the Garden State’s response should there be any cases or suspected cases of the disease at Newark Liberty International Airport. Christie’s order came a day after another potential 2016 GOP presidential candidate, Texas Gov. Rick Perry, designated two Texas hospitals as Ebola treatment centers.
“The public in New Jersey needs to know we are prepared and we’re ready to deal with whatever comes,” Christie said Wednesday, according to WCBS. “We’re constantly reviewing our protocols and our approaches to make sure that we’re doing it in the best possible way that we can.”
Travelers displaying Ebola symptoms at Newark's airport would be taken to one of three New Jersey hospitals. The New York City-area airport is one of five in the U.S. that will monitor people coming from West Africa, the epicenter of the Ebola epidemic, for 21 days. There have not been any people diagnosed with Ebola in New Jersey so far.
Ebola has become a driving issue ahead of the November midterm elections, with candidates from both sides of the aisle urging the federal government to pass tougher protections against the deadly virus that has ravaged West Africa. Federal health officials say it is nearly impossible for most Americans to catch Ebola. Only one person has died from the virus in the U.S., and two nurses who treated that patient and contracted the virus appear to be recovering.
Christie did not add his name to a growing list of politicians who have called for a travel ban on passengers from West Africa because he said there are no direct flights from the region to the U.S. But the New Jersey governor did say that President Barack Obama should consider a visa ban on people from such countries. U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., another possible 2016 GOP presidential candidate, said he would sponsor a bill to temporarily ban visas for people from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone.
"There are no direct flights from these countries to the United States, so what you’d need to really do is do a visa suspension,” Christie said, according to NJ.com. “That’s a significant step,” Christie said, “One that I think should be considered, but that’s ultimately going to be the decision of the president of the United States.”