WRAL News poll: North Carolinians favor Ebola travel ban

Posted October 21, 2014

— More than three-quarters of North Carolinians surveyed in an exclusive WRAL News poll say the federal government should impose travel restrictions on those from countries with Ebola outbreaks.

The poll found that 80 percent of men and 77 percent of women favored a ban, with 79 percent of people overall saying they supported the ban. 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has ordered that airline passengers arriving from West Africa be screened for the deadly disease at one of five airports, which is far short of the complete travel ban called for by some politicians. 

The Ebola travel ban has become an issue in the U.S. Senate race in North Carolina. Margin of Error logo Why are we overestimating the Ebola threat?

Republican candidate Thom Tillis called for a travel ban on Oct. 2, saying, "the White House should immediately ban travel from from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to contain the spread of Ebola."

Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan was initially more circumspect in her response, saying on Oct. 3, "Travel restrictions may be one tool we can use, but they should be part of a broader strategy, because simply sealing the borders to these countries won't make the crisis go away." On Oct. 17, she put out a written statement definitively calling for a travel ban.

"I have said for weeks that travel restrictions should be one part of a broad strategy to prevent Ebola from spreading in the U.S. and fighting it in Africa," Hagan said. "I am calling on the administration to temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from the affected countries in West Africa. Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community, a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the president can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately."

Tillis immediately labeled that a "flip-flop," saying it shows Hagan's "unwillingness to stand up to President Obama when he is wrong. This should not be a partisan issue. Most Americans, in both parties, support a travel ban to keep us safe, and Sen. Hagan should listen to the people instead of the president."

Of those surveyed in the WRAL News poll who say they're voting for Hagan, 67 percent say they back a travel ban. Of those who back Tillis, 92 percent back such a ban. 

While it is a popular idea, scientists are skeptical that a travel ban would be effective in stopping the spread of the disease. 

"A cordon sanitaire of this region would be a public health failure as well as an ethical and political failure," J. Stephen Morrison, director of the Global Health Policy Center at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the New York Times last week. 

In addition to raising concerns that travel bans could frustrate the crisis in West Africa, experts have said it would have little effect in the United States.

"It gives us the false assurance that we can ignore the problems that are happening in Africa," Wendy Parmet, director of the Program on Health Policy and Law at Northeastern University School of Law, told National Geographic Magazine"At the end of the day, we can't, and our own safety depends on our getting it right there, not on building the walls."


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  • j9us Oct 24, 2014

    Anyone with half a brain knows this, but oh well. I rest my case.

  • bowens44 Oct 23, 2014

    "More Americans have been married to Kim Kardashian than have died from Ebola"

  • JustOneMoreGodThanThee Oct 23, 2014

    How do you know what the wording of a travel ban that doesnt exist says?

    And if the Frenchman flies to Canada and tries to drive for fly to the States, they still have to show their Passport- which is stamped with Liberia!

    What other fake scenario do you guys have?

  • Andy Hairston Oct 23, 2014
    user avatar

    Glarg, the ban is to stop people who have recently been in affected countries from entering the US, not to stop citizens specifically of those countries. For example, an aid worker from, say, France, who just came from Liberia, would be stopped from entering this US - and would instead go to some other country FIRST, and then enter the US, not telling anyone they were in Liberia. The travel ban really wouldn't do anything - screening passengers on the way in is far more effective.

  • Terry Lightfoot Oct 22, 2014
    user avatar

    erect a wall around the State of NC...that should satisfy the guns and religion crowd on several fronts

  • glarg Oct 22, 2014

    "Instituting a travel ban would greatly increase the likelihood that people would sneak into neighboring countries and spread the infection there.
    You are assuming that there are a lot of ebola infected travelers just waiting to sneak into the US. If your assumption is true, out currently policy of letting in 100-150 West Africans a day is the worst possible position. We should at least make it hard for these sneak disease vectors you posit.

    Both Canada and Mexico require a PASSPORT and VISA. Canada requires a medical exam. US Customs requires a Passport and Visa to drive across the land borders and arent going to be admitting someone from Liberia who is vomiting.

    This "fly to another country and sneak in" talking point is delusional. Anyone who thinks it is plausible shouldnt have anything to do with health policy.

  • Kaitlyn Legare Oct 22, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    That data comes from a social network of physicians and is not scientifically reliable or representative.

    The reasons why a total travel ban wouldn't work have been mentioned by others here. You can also look it up. I think the travel restrictions we already have in place are the best way to control the spread of Ebola into the US. This is what is recommended by the infectious disease experts. I trust their opinion a lot more than 75% of uninformed survey respondents.

  • Classified Oct 22, 2014

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    Instituting a travel ban would greatly increase the likelihood that people would sneak into neighboring countries and spread the infection there. Those exposed to the infection are now free to spread it among the local population and those infected could even to travel to the US undetected.

  • Bill Brasky Oct 22, 2014

    View quoted thread

    According to CDC it is harder to contract Ebola than it is AIDS, do we ban AIDS travelers as well?

  • Jennifer Hulford Oct 22, 2014
    user avatar

    A travel ban would be useless for a great number of reasons. And I don't think the average North Carolinian even knows one of those reasons. Sadly.