Following the Ebola confirmation in New York City Thursday of MSF volunteer physician, Dr. Craig Spencer, at least three states decided to institute mandatory quarantine periods for high risk travelers like Spencer.
The Governor’s of New York, New Jersey and Illinois have ordered that anyone who had direct contact with a person infected with the Ebola virus while in three African countries will be required to undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine.
“There will also be a mandatory quarantine for any individual who had direct contact with an individual infected with the Ebola virus while in one of the three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea), including any medical personnel having performed medical services to individuals infected with the Ebola virus,” Governors Christie and Cuomo said in a joint statement.
“Additionally, all individuals with travel history to the affected regions of West Africa, with no direct contact with an infected person, will be actively monitored by public health officials and, if necessary, quarantined, depending on the facts and circumstances of their particular situation.”
“This protective measure is too important to be voluntary,” Illinois Governor Pat Quinn said in a statement. “While we have no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in Illinois, we will continue to take every safeguard necessary to protect first responders, health care workers and the people of Illinois.”
One Ebola survivor, Dr. Rick Sacra says such quarantines may discourage the necessary volunteers required from going to West Africa, “People who are not ill, who don’t have a fever, who are not clinically ill, cannot spread Ebola.”
In Florida, Gov Rick Scott is called on the Feds to require the same monitoring for volunteer workers as required for US military returning from area.
“The news of Dr. Spencer testing positive for Ebola after returning to the US last week from treating Ebola patients makes it clear that the CDC and federal government must do more to protect healthcare workers around the world and our citizens here at home.
“The Department of Defense’s guidance for US military members who are deployed to fight Ebola in Africa requires even those at low risk of exposure to be monitored by healthcare professionals with twice daily checkups for 21 days after they return home. Returning military members with a high-risk of exposure are required to be monitored under quarantine for 21 days.
“This 21-day period of care for military men and women allows them to be closely monitored after they have been in contact with Ebola. It is common sense for the federal government to standardize this protocol for all volunteers and personnel in Ebola-infected areas. The federal government must provide the same level of precautionary care for volunteer healthcare workers, like Dr. Spencer, and federal non-military personnel, including the CDC, as they do for the US military. They are all on the frontlines of the fight against Ebola, and they are all expected to return to the US.
“Ensuring that all workers abroad are required to take the same safeguards and precautions as our US military personnel will not only provide an equal level of care for these selfless healthcare workers, it will also better protect all our citizens here in Florida and across the country from any threat of this deadly disease.
“We are glad that we still do not have a case of Ebola here in Florida, and we hope we never do, but we must do everything we can to prepare to combat this disease – and urge the federal government to do everything in their power to stay ahead of its spread and not fall behind, as the CDC has already admitted happened to them with the fatal case in Dallas.”
Currently, the Department of Homeland Security has implemented enhanced screening measures at five airports around the country – New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago. Passengers flying into one of these airports from flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are subject to secondaryscreening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States. These airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries.