All travelers flying into the United States from the West African countries most impacted by the Ebola virus can only enter the U.S. through five airports, Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announced Tuesday.
Starting Wednesday, passengers traveling from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea can only gain entry through the international airports in New York, Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Chicago and Newark, New Jersey – which account for 94% of all incoming travelers from those countries, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
While all U.S. entry points currently screen passengers for potential exposure to the Ebola virus, these five airports have taken additional steps to screen for the disease, such as taking passengers’ temperature and other additional protocols, Johnson said.
The announcement comes amid increasingly vocal calls for President Barack Obama to ban all travel from those three countries into the United States despite top health officials advising against a travel ban.
The ban will apply to any passengers whose flights originated in those three countries since there are no direct flights from there to the U.S.
“We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption,” Johnson said in a statement.
Johnson also said that he spoke with Customs and Border Protection officials and said he was “impressed by their professionalism, and their training and preparation” for the additional screening measures.
The five airports stepped up their screening procedures over the last week and a half for passengers from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Those travelers are assessed by medical staff and questioned about potential Ebola exposure.
The measures are similar to screenings all airline passengers face at airports in West Africa.
Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte, a Republican who plans to introduce legislation calling for a travel ban, said in a statement he is “glad that the Obama administration is showing more concern” over the spread of Ebola.
“But the Administration must do more to protect Americans,” Goodlatte said, noting that screening measure would not have detected that Thomas Eric Duncan, the first to die of the disease on U.S. soil, was infected with Ebola.
A White House official said Johnson’s announcement comes after Obama directed his National Security staff to continually review procedures to fight off an outbreak of the disease.
CNN’s Jim Acosta and Deirdre Walsh contributed to this report.