[Ed. – Someone is bound to come up with a more embarrassing, excuse-laden argument, if we wait long enough. But the one highlighted in bold holds the title for now. New motto for the U.S. government, perhaps: “Can’t predict the blob.”]
But most public health experts remain opposed to such a sweeping travel ban, because they believe the potential downsides are a lot bigger than the potential upsides. These experts make some pretty compelling arguments of their own.
One is that a travel ban would affect the flow of personnel and supplies into the countries where the epidemic continues to spread. Experts, along with non-profits like Doctors Without Borders, say that they’d have a much harder time getting volunteers into the countries if those volunteers knew they could not easily return. Even with an explicit exception for aid workers, they say, the extra burden and uncertainty of having to get special clearance would dampen enthusiasm. Meanwhile, a U.S. travel ban would almost certainly cause other highly developed countries to follow, dramatically reducing the demand for flights and other transportation options to West Africa. …
Lots of people wonder, couldn’t the U.S. government just arrange other transportation—maybe a modern-day version of the 1948 Berlin airlift? I’ve put that question to a number of officials and experts and the answer I keep hearing is “no.” In the real world, they say, making these arrangements would be difficult and solutions would be inadequate. It’s not as if assistance is this highly organized campaign, with all the necessary aid workers and their supplies lined up at Dover Air Force base, just waiting for C-17s to take them across the Atlantic. The flow of people and wares into West Africa is a constantly changing, unpredictable blob that’s heavily dependent on freely available commercial transportation. Replacing that would take resources and time, the latter of which the region really doesn’t have.