Governors stress home quarantine for Ebola workers
NEW YORK (AP): State leaders in New York and New Jersey are at odds with scientists over Ebola as the states' governors back 21-day quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa, while the nation's top infectious-disease expert warns that such restrictions are unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from aiding disease-ravaged countries.
The two governors on the weekend emphasised separately that their policies permit home confinement for medical workers who have had contact with Ebola patients if the workers show no symptoms. They will receive twice-daily monitoring from health officials.
The emphasis on home confinement was at odds with the widely criticised treatment of a nurse returning from Sierrra Leone who was forcibly quarantined is a New Jersey hospital isolation unit even though she said had no symptoms and tested negative for Ebola.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said such quarantines in medical facilities would only be used in some cases, such as if the health-care workers were from states other than New York or New Jersey. For workers under home confinement, family members will be allowed to stay, and friends may visit with the approval of health officials. Workers displaying any symptoms will go straight to the hospital.
"We're staying one step ahead," Cuomo said Sunday night. "We're doing everything possible. Some people say we're being too cautious. I'll take that criticism."
Under the protocols Cuomo detailed, the state also will pay for any lost compensation if the quarantined workers are not paid by a volunteer organisation.
Cuomo had criticised Dr Craig Spencer, who tested positive for Ebola on Thursday, for not obeying a 21-day voluntary quarantine. But on Sunday, he called the health-care workers "heroes" and said his administration would encourage more medical workers to volunteer to fight Ebola.
"The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health-care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go," said Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.