WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- County Executive Rob Astorino was joined by U.S. Rep. Peter King on Monday in renewing their call for JFK International and other area airports to close their gates to any incoming passengers from three West African nations suffering from Ebola outbreaks.
Astorino, the Republican candidate for governor, said Gov. Andrew Cuomo should stop his book-signing tour promoting his autobiography "All Things Possible" and instead order state Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker to make it less possible for Ebola to spread to New York via its airports.
"It is incumbent upon the governor to take action now because the president won't,,'' Astorino said during a Monday conference call with reporters. "We have a potential public health crisis unfolding."
"The Centers for Disease Control said it's coming to New York on an airplane, yet we have a governor who refuses to take action,'' Astorino said. "Every day he waits is another day we're closer to this Ebola virus spreading throughout New York."
Earlier Monday, Cuomo said the Federal Aviation Administration should seriously consider a flight ban.
King, a Long Island Republican and a member of the Homeland Security Committee and Chairman of the Sub-Committee on Counterterrorism and Intelligence, was also on the conference call, said, "We're in a far stronger position if we do not have people coming in from West Africa."
King said stopping incoming passengers at airport gates would not restrict travel by military or medical personnel to or from the affected African nations. King said about 150 passengers are arriving at JFK daily from West Africa, often via European airports.
Astorino said a check of passports is all it takes to identify someone coming from the affected nations. He said any incoming flight with a potentially Ebola-infected passenger should be turned around at the gates to JFK or Newark airports. The U.S. already bans flights from Iraq and Iran, Astorino said, and has restricted travel from Israel on occasion.
Quoting statistics from the World Health Organization, Astorino said 8,000 active Ebola cases are predicted to explode to 80,000 soon and ultimately 1.4 million cases by the end of December with a 70 percent mortality rate.
"We have a governor right now who's ridiculed me for two weeks and yesterday he said he'd consider it,'' Astorino said. "He considers it a nuisance during his book tour. . . .The governor has done nothing about this except to hawk more books."
"Stop selling books. Do your job,'' Astorino repeated.
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