"We need to take this as seriously as the Islamic State," says Tennessee's U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander on America's response to the West African Ebola outbreak that has now claimed the life of the first patient who was diagnosed here on U.S. soil.
"We can contain it, we can help people control it, but certainly in the meantime we want to make sure we inspect every single person traveling from those countries as they might come into the United States," said Alexander Wednesday while touring TVA's Watts Bar Nuclear Plant.
"We don't need to wait a week, or two weeks or three weeks to start screening travelers, we need to do it now." Senator Alexander says he supports President Obama's latest indication that the United States will begin temperature screenings of inbound air travelers from Africa's Ebola hotspots at five U.S. airports but, "I hope he'll take up my second recommendation which was to put a cabinet level person in charge of this entire Ebola response so we can move quickly," says Tennessee's senior U.S. Senator.
Alexander says he knows firsthand that Ebola is not a death sentence, noting his recent meeting with Dr. Kent Brantly, the first American known to contract the deadly virus. Doctors at Atlanta's Emory Hospital helped Brantly beat the deadly virus.
"He recovered, he testified three weeks ago before my committee and the United States Senate, he's recovered from Ebola, I shook his hand, visited with him," said Alexander, who adds Nashville's Vanderbilt Medical Center is ready if someone in Tennessee contracts Ebola.
"They believe they know how to do that, they're confident that they can do that," says Alexander, who is a ranking committee member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.