Columbus city leaders reveal plan for potential Ebola risk

COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Five international airports in the U.S. are set to start stronger Ebola screenings for passengers.

Travelers from infected areas will receive questionnaires and have their temperatures taken before flying into the country.

While the CDC fights to stop the spread, Mayor Teresa Tomlinson says Columbus is ready in case Ebola touches down in the Fountain City.

Mayor Tomlinson says plans are being finalized for the city to work with local health agencies to combat the spread of the virus on the heels of the first Ebola death in the U.S.

The mayor says the city's role is to provide support.

"We know how to isolate an area," Tomlinson explains. "We know how to stand watch and can stand watch over an area and we also have the EMS expertise, of course, to go in and transport if necessary. So, we can assist the health care organizations who know exactly what to do once you come inside their walls."

Nationally, the Centers for Disease Control has vamped up public safety efforts at the country's busiest airports. With Atlanta named one of the five international airports to begin temperature and travel history screenings soon, local infection control experts say the CDC's stronger screening strategy could really help.

Susan Harp, Infection Control Manager for Columbus Regional Medical Center said "to kind of rule out the people who may be having a fever that are going to board a plane in those areas."

Although passengers who connect in Atlanta do fly to Columbus, Columbus Airport officials say at risk travelers will be screened by CDC workers or at Customs in Atlanta. But should a case show up in the Fountain City, Mayor Tomlinson says the city will do whatever it takes to protect the community.

"If it were to step up the number of incidences to increase in this community, then we could quickly train individuals who would be able to take temperatures and things of that nature," Tomlinson adds.

Mayor Tomlinson tells me the city is following the CDC's alerts and information and carefully monitoring the spread of Ebola. Visit this link for more information about Ebola.

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