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Larsen Calls For Infectious Disease Response Strategy For U.S. Aviation System

Rep. Rick Larsen, WA-02, today released a report detailing ways the U.S. aviation system can more effectively respond to epidemics and other global health crises. Larsen requested that the Government Accountability Office study the preparedness of U.S. airports and airlines to handle the spread of an infectious disease during the emergence of the Ebola virus last fall.

Larsen, the Ranking Member of the Aviation Subcommittee, wanted more information about a national response plan as an alternative to banning flights to the U.S. from countries experiencing contagious epidemics. During the Ebola outbreak, some called for flight bans, though medical experts, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recommended against the strategy.

Larsen will work on a solution in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) reauthorization bill that brings together relevant federal agencies to develop a national plan to respond to infectious diseases within the aviation system.

“In a world where nearly 3 billion people board planes each year, the U.S. aviation system must have a clear plan of action to handle infectious disease crises. Banning air travel is not a feasible or effective solution to an epidemic, which is why I want to see federal agencies develop a plan to share information quickly and respond to the threat of an infectious disease in our aviation system. With a smart strategy in place, we can keep people safe and maintain the flow of our air traffic,” Larsen said.

Full text of the GAO report is available here.