White House Petition Calls On FAA To Ban Flights From Ebola-Stricken Countries

Officials from the World Health Organization wear protective clothing on July 28, 2012 as they prepare to enter Kagadi Hospital in Kibale District, about 200 kilometres from Kampala, where an outbreak of Ebola virus started.  (Photo credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Officials from the World Health Organization wear protective clothing on July 28, 2012 as they prepare to enter Kagadi Hospital in Kibale District, about 200 kilometres from Kampala, where an outbreak of Ebola virus started. (Photo credit: ISAAC KASAMANI/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) – A new petition is calling for the Federal Aviation Administration to ban flights from countries that are stricken with the Ebola virus in West Africa.

The WhiteHouse.gov petition was started on October 1 by M.H. in Lebanon, PA. The petition, which has over 26,000 signatures, needs 100,000 people to sign it by October 31 to garner a response from the Obama administration.

“The Ebola virus has reached unprecedented epidemic proportions in West Africa, and has been joined by another unrelated concurrent outbreak in the Congo,” the online petition reads. “Experts had stated it was ‘highly unlikely’ that ebola would show up on American soil. But now it has, in the City of Dallas, Texas, brought here by an individual who entered our country from the West African nation of Liberia, where ebola is rampant.”

The World Health Organization said West Africa could see up to 10,000 new Ebola cases a week within two months and confirmed that the death rate in the current outbreak is now 70 percent. The disease has killed more than 4,000 people, nearly all of them in West Africa. The WHO has called the outbreak “the most severe, acute health emergency seen in modern times.”

The creator of the petition wrote that American citizens are “scared” of the deadly virus.

“The citizens of the US are scared. We do not want any more ebola-infected individuals bringing the epidemic to our shores,” the petition reads. “The longer we allow people to enter our country from ebola-stricken areas, the higher the chance another person infected with ebola will arrive here, putting ALL of our citizens at risk. Please tell the FAA to ban ALL incoming flights from any/all ebola-stricken regions.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Priscilla Chan, are donating $25 million to the CDC Foundation to help address the Ebola epidemic.

The money will be used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Ebola response effort in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and elsewhere in the world where Ebola is a threat, the foundation said Tuesday.

The grant follows a $9 million donation made by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen last month. Zuckerberg and Chan are making the grant from their fund at the nonprofit Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

“We need to get Ebola under control in the near term so that it doesn’t spread further and become a long term global health crisis that we end up fighting for decades at large scale, like HIV or polio,” Zuckerberg wrote on his Facebook page on Tuesday. “We believe our grant is the quickest way to empower the CDC and the experts in this field to prevent this outcome.”

“The most important step we can take is to stop Ebola at its source. The sooner the world comes together to help West Africa, the safer we all will be,” said CDC Director Tom Frieden in a statement.

The Texas nurse who became the first person to contract Ebola on American soil said Tuesday that she is doing well as her hospital expressed optimism about her recovery.

Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas released a statement on Nina Pham’s behalf Tuesday. The comments were her first since she became infected with Ebola while caring for a man from Liberia who later died of the disease.

“I’m doing well and want to thank everyone for their kind wishes and prayers,” Pham said.

The CEO of the hospital also put out a statement in which he said doctors and nurses “are working tirelessly to help her in this courageous fight. The doctors and nurses involved with her treatment remain hopeful.”

Pham was among about 70 staff members who cared for Duncan, according to medical records. She wore protective gear that included gowns, gloves, masks and face shields while caring for Duncan, but the 26-year-old nurse still became infected. Officials blamed it on a breach of protocol.

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