Senator proposes system to track ‘infectious diseases’ from visitors, like DHS tracks terror threats

Sen. Cassidy says he might incorporate it into future legislation as a way to "formalize" the idea and move it forward

Sen. Cassidy
Sen. Cassidy
(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images)
Updated: July 7, 2020 - 12:33pm

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Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy has proposed the creation of a federal system that tracks infectious diseases among travelers entering the United States, similar to the way the Department of Homeland Security monitors potential terrorist threats.

The Louisiana Republican said the tracking system would help prevent the spread of infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

“Homeland Security knows that when somebody takes off from a country, which might have a terrorist cell within it, that they are flying to the U.S. and when they’re supposed to arrive. And I’ve often thought that we should have a similar system for the spread of infectious disease," Cassidy said during a recent video conference call with health care experts.

“So that if we know there is an outbreak of Zika in the Pacific and workers are coming from the Pacific to Brazil in order to build out the Olympic infrastructure that they might be bringing Zika with them and if you will you can connect those hotspots of disease just like you would hotspots of terrorism,” he also said.

Cassidy, who is also a doctor, said that when someone from a part of another country that’s a “hotspot” for Zika is traveling to work in a U.S. fish processing plant, for example, the operators of the plant would be made aware of that information under the proposed system.

Cassidy told Just the News that he originally proposed the idea “around six years ago” during the Zika outbreak and that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) officials told him “they are working on” such a system.

Since a similar system has yet to be implemented for infectious diseases, Cassidy said he might incorporate it into future legislation as a way to "formalize" the idea and move it forward.

"It just seems that's what we should do in an era in which, think about it, if this truly started in a wet market within four months it has spread around the world. And so it shows you the rapidity by which infectious disease can spread," he said, referencing COVID-19.

Cassidy’s office was asked on Monday which specific DHS system for terrorism would be the model for the senator's infectious disease tracking system. His office declined to provide the name of the system but referred to an op-ed Cassidy wrote in March about the importance of “tracking immunity” to help stop the spread of COVID-19. 



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