New York, New Jersey to begin quarantine of high risk travelers

It took Ebola to show up in New York city for authorities to finally confront the issue of quarantining high risk travelers from West African countries. Both New York Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Christie have decided to buck the White House, which has been claiming for weeks that a quarantine wouldn't work, and require travelers exposed to be quarantined for three weeks.

The policy is not voluntary.

The Hill:

Anyone considered “high-risk” for Ebola flying into New York or New Jersey will be quarantined for three weeks, the states’ governors announced Friday.

“A voluntary Ebola quarantine is not enough. This is too serious a public health situation,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said during a late afternoon press conference with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

The federal government already stipulates that passengers arriving from Ebola-affected areas self-monitor their temperature every day for three weeks.

Under the new policy in the two states, all travelers from high-risk areas will be interviewed about any contact with Ebola patients. If they have been exposed to the virus, they will be quarantined, and possibly medically monitored, until the incubation period has ended.

“There is no more ‘voluntary quarantine’ in New Jersey because you can't count on people to do it,” said Christie, a possible presidential contender in 2016. Cuomo agreed, adding that a voluntary quarantine is "almost an oxymoron to me.”

“This is not the time to take chances,” Cuomo said.

The announcement could preempt a move by the federal government to require quarantines for healthcare workers returning from countries with Ebola outbreaks. The White House said it is considering all options, but has not expressly supported a quarantine policy.

Lawmakers from both parties praised the idea at a House Oversight Committee hearing Friday. Members noted that the latest U.S. Ebola patient, doctor Craig Spencer, failed to self-quarantine as he developed Ebola symptoms.

The briefing by Cuomo and Christie, which was announced just minutes before the governors spoke, came shortly after New Jersey officials quarantined a woman who reportedly cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She has not presented symptoms.

Under federal law, states are given wide leeway in how they decide to respond to public health threats like Ebola. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pledged to support states with whatever procedures they put into place.

Christie slammed existing federal protocols, which he said are too lax.

“We are no longer relying on CDC standards," Christie said.

Cuomo said both states had received a greenlight to "establish their own guidelines" for Ebola.

If these policies had been in place earlier, Dr. Craig Spencer, who contracted the virus treating Ebola patients in Africa, would not have been able to go bowling, ride the subway, or expose his family and friends to the virus. He would have been taken from the airport upon his arrival and placed in quarantine.

A triumph for common sense over political correctness.

This policy should be adopted by every state in the country. It would go a long way toward stopping the disease in its tracks when it reaches our shores by drastically reducing the number of Americans exposed to the virus by recent visitors to West Africa.

It took Ebola to show up in New York city for authorities to finally confront the issue of quarantining high risk travelers from West African countries. Both New York Governor Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Christie have decided to buck the White House, which has been claiming for weeks that a quarantine wouldn't work, and require travelers exposed to be quarantined for three weeks.

The policy is not voluntary.

The Hill:

Anyone considered “high-risk” for Ebola flying into New York or New Jersey will be quarantined for three weeks, the states’ governors announced Friday.

“A voluntary Ebola quarantine is not enough. This is too serious a public health situation,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) said during a late afternoon press conference with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R).

The federal government already stipulates that passengers arriving from Ebola-affected areas self-monitor their temperature every day for three weeks.

Under the new policy in the two states, all travelers from high-risk areas will be interviewed about any contact with Ebola patients. If they have been exposed to the virus, they will be quarantined, and possibly medically monitored, until the incubation period has ended.

“There is no more ‘voluntary quarantine’ in New Jersey because you can't count on people to do it,” said Christie, a possible presidential contender in 2016. Cuomo agreed, adding that a voluntary quarantine is "almost an oxymoron to me.”

“This is not the time to take chances,” Cuomo said.

The announcement could preempt a move by the federal government to require quarantines for healthcare workers returning from countries with Ebola outbreaks. The White House said it is considering all options, but has not expressly supported a quarantine policy.

Lawmakers from both parties praised the idea at a House Oversight Committee hearing Friday. Members noted that the latest U.S. Ebola patient, doctor Craig Spencer, failed to self-quarantine as he developed Ebola symptoms.

The briefing by Cuomo and Christie, which was announced just minutes before the governors spoke, came shortly after New Jersey officials quarantined a woman who reportedly cared for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She has not presented symptoms.

Under federal law, states are given wide leeway in how they decide to respond to public health threats like Ebola. Officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have pledged to support states with whatever procedures they put into place.

Christie slammed existing federal protocols, which he said are too lax.

“We are no longer relying on CDC standards," Christie said.

Cuomo said both states had received a greenlight to "establish their own guidelines" for Ebola.

If these policies had been in place earlier, Dr. Craig Spencer, who contracted the virus treating Ebola patients in Africa, would not have been able to go bowling, ride the subway, or expose his family and friends to the virus. He would have been taken from the airport upon his arrival and placed in quarantine.

A triumph for common sense over political correctness.

This policy should be adopted by every state in the country. It would go a long way toward stopping the disease in its tracks when it reaches our shores by drastically reducing the number of Americans exposed to the virus by recent visitors to West Africa.