New York: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has fleshed out guidelines for the mandatory, 21-day quarantining of medical workers returning from West Africa that he and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie ordered two days earlier, bringing the state closer in line with federal protocols.
Cuomo detailed the state's protocols at a nighttime news conference with New York City's mayor last night after the Obama administration said it expressed concerns to Cuomo and Christie about their states' mandatory Ebola quarantines. The announcement also comes amid sharp criticism of the treatment of a nurse returning from Sierrra Leone who was forcibly quarantined in a New Jersey hospital isolation unit even though she said had no symptoms and tested negative for Ebola.
Under the outlined New York guidelines, medical professionals who have had contact with Ebola patients will be quarantined at home and receive twice-daily monitoring if they have no symptoms. Family members will be allowed to stay, and friends may visit with the approval of health officials. 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, either in their homes or in medical facilities, and Illinois soon followed suit. Twenty-one days is the incubation period for Ebola.
Last night, Christie also stressed that home confinement would be used for New Jersey residents and others when possible.
"The protocol is clear that a New Jersey resident with no symptoms, but who has come into contact with someone with Ebola, such as a health care provider, would be subject to a mandatory quarantine order and quarantined at home.
Non-residents would be transported to their homes if feasible and, if not, quarantined in New Jersey," said a statement from Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts.