The Daily Signal, a digital news service of the Heritage Foundation, reports that U.S. embassies in Liberia, Sierre Leone, and Guinea are still processing visas for non-U.S. nationals despite the Ebola epidemic. Approximately 100 people per day are applying for U.S. visas across the three embassies.

Representative Ed Royce, chairman of the House Foreign Relations Committee voiced his concerns on this issue to Secretary of State John Kerry in a letter. Royce wrote,

“Given the critical need to contain this disease at its source, I was surprised that the Department of State has not already exercised its authority to suspend consular services, which is standard procedure in countries experiencing a major security disruption. This would be a prudent measure to mitigate the risk of Ebola exposure and contain its spread – a bedrock principle of health of crisis management.”

The Daily Signal notes Royce “strongly encourages” the State Department to immediately suspend the issuance of visas for non-US nationals in these countries.

While the Obama administration refuses to ban travel from the Ebola-stricken countries, officials in Africa are pointing to border closings as a major reason the disease has not spread to neighboring countries. In its story, “Africa Stems Ebola Via Border Closings, Luck,” the AP writes,

“Border closings may also be helping halt the spread of Ebola.  Ivory Coast, Guinea-Bissau, and Senegal, all which share a border with at least one of the three most affected countries, have closed those borders.”

South Africa and Zambia have also restricted travel from Ebola-affected countries.

U.S. Congressional leaders are starting to call for a travel ban including Speaker of the House John Boehner in this statement.

Another Ohioan, Representative Steve Stivers authored a bipartisan letter signed by 27 House members arguing for travel restrictions from the affected African countries.

Not all Ohio Congress members support a travel ban despite the recent occurence of an Ebola infected person visiting Ohio.  Instead of travel restrictions, Senator Rob Portman has suggested the US move from “passive” to “active” screenings of travelers coming from the Ebola-stricken countries. Portman explains “active” screening would entail U.S. officials asking pertinent questions of incoming travelers rather than relying soley on the home countries to do so.

In a CNN editorial Portman writes,

“Just as travelers are now asked where they have been, whether they are bringing in fruits or vegetables or have been in contact with livestock, travelers from West Africa would be asked if they were in contact with someone with Ebola, someone displaying symptoms of Ebola, or if they have any symptoms of Ebola. If the answer is yes or suspicions are raised, the passenger would be referred to CDC officials for additional questioning, medical screening and quarantine, if necessary.”

“This particular patient in Dallas (the man who traveled from Liberia with Ebola) apparently did have contact with someone with Ebola and might well have been identified by active screening. “

Portman fails to mention that it is widely believed the “particular patient in Dallas” lied to authorities in Liberia and he does not explain how an “active” screening system would inhibit someone from also lying to U.S. officials. Portman sticks to his position in his recent press release regarding the Ebola infected traveler in Ohio.

Senator Sherrod Brown responded to the Ohio Ebola incident by sending a letter to the CDC asking for help with the tracking and monitoring of Ohioans possibly exposed and for the CDC to communicate the most up to date protocols to Ohio hospitals. As with Portman, there is no mention of a travel ban.

Portman and Brown are only proposing measures to fight the epidemic on our turf rather than stopping the spread of the disease from the point of origin.

Some U.S. officials contend that closing travel would worsen the situation in Africa.  This assertion does not hold water, but those that feel this way are missing the key point – taking preemptive measures to keep the virus from our shores actually enhances our ability to be an ally in the fight against Ebola abroad.  If Americans are kept disease-free, the U.S. government is in a stronger position to help overseas.  Not to mention, the primary objective of the U.S. Government should be to protect Americans.

AP’s report highlighting the success of border closings in Africa will hopefully increase public pressure  on the Obama administration to temporarily ban travel from the affected region.