Cuomo revises New York policy for Ebola quarantine
New York — Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday night revised guidelines for the mandatory, 21-day quarantining of medical workers returning from West Africa that he and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie ordered two days earlier, bringing the state closer in line with federal protocols.
He outlined the state’s policy at a nighttime news conference with New York City’s mayor after the Obama administration said it expressed concerns to Cuomo and Christie about their states’ mandatory Ebola quarantines. The revision also comes amid criticism of the 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.
Under the revised New York guidelines, medical professors who have had contact with Ebola patients will be quarantined at home and receive twice-daily monitoring if they have no symptoms. The state will also pay for any lost compensation, if they are not paid by a volunteer organization.
Cuomo had criticized 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.
Meanwhile, Kaci Hickox, the first nurse forcibly quarantined in New Jersey under the state’s new policy, said in a telephone interview with CNN that her isolation at a hospital was “inhumane,” adding: “We have to be very careful about letting politicians make health decisions.”
Saying the federal health guidelines are inadequate, Cuomo and Christie announced a mandatory quarantine program Friday for medical workers and other arriving airline passengers who have had contact with Ebola victims in West Africa, and Illinois soon followed suit. Twenty-one days is the incubation period for Ebola.
Christie on Sunday defended quarantining as necessary to protect the public and predicted it “will become a national policy sooner rather than later.”
“I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system,” said Christie, who is expected to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. He added: “I absolutely have no second thoughts about it.”
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio called Hickox a “returning hero” and charged that she was “treated with disrespect,” as if she done something wrong, when she was put into quarantine. He said that she was interrogated repeatedly and things were not explained well to her.
Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who is on a trip to West Africa, said returning U.S. health care workers should be “treated like conquering heroes and not stigmatized for the tremendous work that they have done.”
Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered twice-daily monitoring for 21 days of anyone returning from the Ebola-stricken areas.
The World Health Organization said more than 10,000 people have been infected with Ebola in the outbreak that came to light last March, and nearly half of them have died, mostly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Fauci appeared on “Fox News Sunday,” ABC’s “This Week, NBC’s “Meet the Press,” CBS’ “Face the Nation” and CNN’s “State of the Union.” Christie was interviewed on Fox and Power spoke to NBC.
Associated Press writers Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, N.J., Josh Lederman and Thomas Strong in Washington, and Verena Dobnik in New York contributed to this report.