NEW YORK (AP) — Alarmed by the case of an Ebola-infected New York doctor, the governors of New Jersey and New York on Friday ordered a mandatory, 21-day quarantine for all medical workers and other arriving travelers who have had contact with victims of the deadly disease in West Africa.
The move came after a New York City physician who returned to the U.S. a week ago from treating Ebola patients in Guinea fell ill with the virus. Many New Yorkers were dismayed to learn that after he came home, Dr. Craig Spencer rode the subway, took a cab, went bowling, visited a coffee shop and ate at a restaurant in the city of 8 million.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said the case led them to conclude that the two states need precautions more rigorous than those of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which recommends monitoring of exposed people for 21 days but doesn’t require quarantine, in which they are kept away from others.
“It’s too serious a situation to leave it to the honor system of compliance,” Cuomo said.
Those who are forcibly quarantined will be confined either to their homes or, if they live in other states, to some other place, most likely a medical facility, the governors said. Those quarantined at home will receive house calls from health officials. Twenty-one days is the incubation period for the Ebola virus.
Dr. Howard Zucker, acting New York state health commissioner, said any medical personnel who have treated Ebola patients in the three Ebola-ravaged West African countries — Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia — will be automatically quarantined.
Cuomo said anyone arriving from the three countries will be questioned at the airport about their contact with Ebola patients.
The two governors gave no estimate of how many travelers would be subject to quarantine, but Cuomo said “we’re not talking about a tremendous volume of people coming in from these areas,” and added that there are no plans to hire more screeners at airports.
The two states are home to Kennedy Airport and Newark Liberty in New Jersey, both major international portals.
Spencer’s illness led lawmakers on Capitol Hill, scientists and ordinary New Yorkers to wonder why he was out on the town after his return from West Africa — and why stronger steps weren’t being taken to quarantine medical workers.
Health officials said that he followed U.S. and international guidelines in checking his temperature every day and watching for symptoms, and that he put no one at risk. But others said he should have been quarantined — either voluntarily or by the government — during the incubation period.
Well, one State at a time is better than nothing…
A Modest Suggestion:
Medical staff returning from Ebola regions are given an all expenses paid Cruise home on a very nice cruise ship. Fine dining. Pool and sun deck. The works. Just have it take 30 days to make the voyage…