"A spokesman for Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz., said Wednesday night that Franks believes the border should be closed right now except in critical cases or situations involving emergency personnel.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said all options should be considered to end the crisis involving swine flu, "including closing the border if it would prevent further transmission of the deadly virus."
In a twitter message early Wednesday, McCain wrote "I said to Napolitano, 'We need to be prepared to close the border with Mexico if the swine flu outbreak escalates further.'""
Regrettably, this idiocy seems to be bipartisan:
"Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.) said the border should be closed until the threat is resolved.
"The public needs to be aware of the serious threat of swine flu, and we need to close our borders to Mexico immediately and completely until this is resolved," Massa said in a statement."
Hilzoy points out that, aside from the fact the disease is already here and happily spreading, border closures probably won't do jack diddly shit, for the simple reason we can't seal the damned border:
Franks, McCain and Massa's ability to understand the simple reality of pandemics: epic fail. And unfortunately, they don't lose their jobs for egregious stupidity.
Unfortunately, the flu is infectious for about a day before people develop symptoms. That means that any attempt to screen people at the border will not work. (So much for those heat sensors.) You'd have to keep everyone out, period. We can't do that even without an influenza epidemic; I have no idea why anyone thinks we would suddenly be able to do it now.
Earlier today, Ezra linked to a World Bank review of the literature on containing pandemic flu. It explains the pros and cons of various measures, and estimates of their likely effect, quite well (if a bit wonkily.) The discussion of travel restrictions starts on p. 30, though some of the terminology is defined earlier. The takeaway message is that even very effective border controls, including shutting down almost all air traffic, would have very little effect.
But there is good news. The swine flu has claimed a deserving victim:
Conservative talker Jay Severin was suspended indefinitely today by Boston's WTKK-FM after using the current swine flu outbreak to attack Mexicans and immigrants. On his radio show, Severin blamed the swine flu on what he called "some of the world's lowest of primitives in poor Mexico"...And that was the least of what he said. Hey, WTKK? Can we stretch that "indefinite" suspension out for, oh, say, the next 30 years?
I do so hope the swine flu continues to bring out the worst in right-wing radio hosts. It would be lovely to see a gaggle of racist gits swell the unemployment lines.