By Syma Chowdhry
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — From airport crews to hospital workers, folks in our area are trying to prevent the spread of Ebola.
Philadelphia airport workers, with the help of one of the largest service employee unions, held a press conference saying they are not properly equipped to prevent the spread of Ebola.
The workers clean the planes and sometimes come in contact with human waste.
“We clean the bathrooms. We removed the trash, wipe down tray tables digging into seat cushions, underneath the seats and in the seat pockets,” airport worker Anthony Reynolds said.
Airport workers want equipment that health care workers would use.
“We might not know if a passenger was infected. When we clean the airplane cabin, we have no mask, we have no goggles, we have no facial shields, we have no shoe covers and we have no water proof gowns,” Reynolds said.
The workers are not employed by the airport — they are subcontracted by the airlines.
A spokesperson for American Airlines responded to the workers concerns saying:
“We continue to monitor the situation closely, working with CDC, and will continue to take any and all necessary precautionary steps as directed by CDC.”
The federal government has restricted travel from Ebola-stricken areas to five US airports.
Philadelphia airport is not included on that list.
But on the flip side, area hospitals are preparing to deal with an Ebola outbreak.
Several Congressmen met with local hospital officials to discuss readiness.
“There is a need for regionalization to care for those who are infected with Ebola,” U.S. Rep. Charles Dent (R-PA) said.
“It’s been made clear to us, they are well prepared to handle any challenges that might arise,” U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) said.
But some city officials say the focus shouldn’t just be healthcare workers, it should also include preparations at the airport.
“The folks that come before even the hospital workers are the people that are on these planes that are bringing passengers over that are cleaning up,” Philadelphia City Councilman Curtis Jones said.
These workers are not employees of the airport. They have been subcontracted by the airlines.
But airport officials say they have been following directions from the CDC to minimize the risk.
And they say the risk was low to begin with because there are no direct flights between any African country and Philadelphia.
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