(Reuters) - The governors of New York and New Jersey on Sunday stuck to new plans to quarantine health workers returning from countries with Ebola epidemics,
despite pressure from the White House, but said people could stay at
home while in isolation.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo
struck a more conciliatory tone on Sunday about the new quarantine
policy after the White House said that mandatory isolation could impede
the Ebola fight, while an attorney for a nurse who has been quarantined
since returning from West Africa said she planned to sue.
to concerns that mandatory quarantine would inhibit doctors and nurses
from traveling to West Africa, Cuomo said New York wanted to encourage
personnel to go, lauding their "valor" and "compassion," while also
protecting public safety at home.
workers and travelers exposed to people with Ebola and who live in New
York can stay in their homes for the 21-day quarantine, checked upon
twice daily by healthcare professionals, Cuomo said, adding that the
state would provide financial assistance if needed.
White House had voiced its concern to the governors of New York and New
Jersey about the potential impact of quarantine orders, a senior
administration official said.
have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states know
that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not
grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in
West Africa," the Obama administration official said in a statement.
Jersey Gov. Chris Christie first announced the quarantine policy on
Friday, and on Sunday night reiterated that the terms had not changed.
New Jersey resident who had contact with someone with Ebola would be
quarantined at home. Non-residents would be transported home if feasible
or quarantined in New Jersey.
people are extraordinary for their valor and their courage and their
compassion," Cuomo said. "Anything we can do to encourage it, we want to
He added that New York was not changing the policy announced on Friday.
NURSE CONTESTS QUARANTINE
sounded less placating than Cuomo in remarks he made about the
quarantined nurse, who went public over hours of questioning at Newark
Liberty International Airport and her transfer to a hospital isolation
Nurse Kaci Hickox, the first
health worker isolated under the rules, was placed in 21-day quarantine
in a New Jersey hospital after returning from treating Ebola patients
in Sierra Leone. She will fight her quarantine in court, her attorney
said on Sunday, arguing the order violates her constitutional rights.
Jersey, New York and Illinois are imposing quarantines on anyone
arriving with a high risk of having contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone,
Liberia and Guinea, where the epidemic has killed nearly 5,000 people.
understand that this has made this woman uncomfortable, and I’m sorry,"
Christie told reporters. "I have the people in New Jersey as my first
and foremost responsibility to protect."
professionals note that Ebola is extremely difficult to catch, spread
through direct contact with bodily fluids from an infected person and
not transmitted by asymptomatic people.
over her confinement, Hickox, a Texas native, planned to file a federal
lawsuit this week, her attorney said. She remains asymptomatic and has
not tested positive for Ebola, prominent civil liberties lawyer Norman
The new rules were
imposed a day after a New York doctor, Craig Spencer, was diagnosed with
Ebola after he returned from treating patients in Guinea. Spencer moved
freely around the city before he had symptoms that would make him
Now hospitalized in isolation, he appeared slightly improved but remained in serious but stable condition on Sunday.
Spencer and Hickox worked with Doctors Without Borders, a charity closely involved in the fight against the epidemic.
four people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the United States. The
first diagnosis, a Liberian visitor to Texas in September who died, was
riddled with missteps. Two nurses who treated the man contracted the
disease but have recovered.