Most of us know that allowing free and open immigration is a dangerous mistake. Without checks and balances in place, it allows criminals to enter the country and harm (or take advantage of) everyday American citizens. We talk a lot about how the borders between Mexico and Canada and the US need to be solidified, but harm can come from other places, too – including visitors who bring in diseases.
In fact, this week, an Air Emirates jet coming from Dubai landed in New York city with nearly 100 extremely sick people on board.
• Here’s what we know about the Jet of Doom: it seems that at least some, if not all, of the people on the plane were sick before boarding. They were not only allowed through border checks, but also granted access to the airplane despite their symptoms.
• Officials didn’t know whether the illness was innocuous or deadly until after landing in New York City. Our talented doctors were able to help and have identified influenza as the main cause, but the point is that sick people were brought into the country without even identifying the illness.
• Why is this a problem? Flu-like symptoms manifest in a wide range of illnesses, all the way from the common cold to Ebola. It takes just a single person to board a plane and enter the US to cause an epidemic if environmental factors are just right.
• Due to the fact that air is continuously circulated in the airplane while it’s in flight, the risk for transmission of germs and illnesses is quite high. This means that a single person could board an overseas flight and effectively pass on their illness to every other person before landing.
• We also have to take this time to praise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), who jumped into action even before the airplane landed. When Air Emirates radioed in that they had sick people on board, the CDC prepared for anything and headed right out to John F. Kennedy airport.
• The good news here is that all 520 patients on the plane are going to be just fine, but this is a cautionary tale about the risk of disease transmission without stronger border checks for travelers. A more serious or fatal disease (such as ebola or even the Black Plague) could have potentially set off a domino effect in New York City, one of the most populated zones in the country.
• Stronger border checks shouldn’t be limited to just immigrants or refugees; they should also be in place for anyone coming into the country. While it isn’t possible to block out all diseases without totally closing our borders, basic wellness checks obviously need to go far beyond where they are right now. The flu does not manifest in a matter of hours, and this should not happen.