On the June 10 edition of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham claimed that newly arrived migrants from the Congo may be carrying the Ebola virus. Ingraham read a response from San Antonio officials explaining why the claim would be impossible, but then went on to ask, “Why would we even put that to chance?”
LAURA INGRAHAM (HOST): Now, did you know that in the month of May, Border Patrol arrested more than 132,000 people trying to crash our border? And in the first two weeks of June, more than 500 Africans have been arrested trying to sneak into the country as well. That's kind of new.
Now, hundreds of illegals from the Congo apparently are applying for asylum and being deposited in San Antonio.
Now, this could clearly be a public health concern. Why? Well, according to Reuters, the number of cases of Ebola in eastern Congo has passed 2,000, government figures showed, as the rate of new cases tripled and containment efforts faltered in the remote, unstable region.
Now, the city of San Antonio got back to The Ingraham Angle tonight and said, for them, Ebola they don't believe is a concern. Why?
Well, they say the incubation period is 21 days for that disease, and that they believe these folks have been outside their country for six to seven months -- but, I don't know, why would we even put that to chance?
I'm not sure we're really tracking the travel patterns of everybody coming into the country, but they're telling us, “Don't worry tonight. It's OK.”
On Tuesday, Texas health officials formally rebuked the claims, with Colleen Bridger, the interim assistant city manager and director of the San Antonio Metropolitan Health District, calling it “patently false.”
Buzzfeed News reported that officials moved to act after the debunked rumor was spread by far-right conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones' Infowars and Gateway Pundit. Similar to Ingraham, an Infowars employee made patently false suggestions about the incubation period of Ebola:
An Infowars reporter also went to a temporary immigrant shelter set up in San Antonio to follow up on rumors about the virus. The reporter turned on their camera inside the shelter, against a request of those running the center, and was removed after getting into a “kerfuffle,” Bridger said.
The Infowars reporter questioned Bridger on camera and suggested that immigrants could carry the Ebola virus for months on their person without becoming infected themselves or displaying any signs of the disease, which she explained was not possible.
The incubation period for the virus is 21 days, Bridger said, and most of the people traveling from Central Africa have been traveling for months through South America after leaving Africa.
“Someone with the virus would develop symptoms of that disease within 21 days of that exposure,” she said in the press conference. “So if you do the math and think of the fact that they left their country many, many months ago, there's no possibility that these individuals are bringing Ebola into our country.”
This is not the first time Ingraham has spread disinformation regarding the health of migrants entering the United States, previously speculating that migrant caravans posed a health risk and were carrying disease. This nativist fearmongering is not limited to the opinion side of Fox either: In May, Fox correspondent Griff Jenkins talked on air about “rumors” of Ebola among migrants, earning plaudits from Fox host Steve Doocy.