Going further than NYC, Cuomo & Christie announce mandatory Ebola quarantines

'We are no longer relying on CDC standards'

October 24, 2014 By Mary Frost Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Cuomo and Christie announce mandatory Ebola quarantines. Photo courtesy Office of Gov. Cuomo
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New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie late Friday afternoon announced a mandatory quarantine for any person who had direct contact with someone infected with the Ebola virus while in one of the three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea).

This includes medical personnel such as Dr. Craig Spencer, diagnosed with Ebola in New York City on Thursday. Dr. Spencer had been working in Guinea with Doctors Without Borders until his return to New York City on Oct. 17.

The governor’s announcement goes beyond measures announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio, the Health Department and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at an earlier press conference on Friday.

“We will establish an interview and screening process to determine an individual’s risk level by considering the geographic area of origin and the level of exposure to the virus,” Cuomo said. “Depending on the risk level, a person could require mandatory 21 day quarantine, or at a government regulated facility.

We have informed the CDC of our intentions and they agree that states have the right to establish their own guidelines,” he said.

Christie said via a series of messages on Twitter, “Today, a healthcare worker arrived at Newark Airport, [with] a recent history of treating patients with Ebola in West Africa, but with no symptoms. After the CDC alerted the New Jersey Department of Health of the traveler, DOH made the determination that a legal quarantine order should be issued. This woman, while her home residence is outside of this area, her next stop was going to be here in NY. Gov. Cuomo and I discussed it before we came out today and a quarantine order will be issued.”

According to the New York Times, Christie said, “We are no longer relying on CDC standards.”

The difference in policy was noted with some concern by the de Blasio administration. “The mayor wants to work closely with our state partners, but he wants to make sure that there will not be any sort of chilling effect on medical workers who might want to go over to help,” spokesman Phil Walzak told AP.

City says Dr. Spencer followed protocols

Spencer was apparently symptom-free since arriving in New York City, but began to feel tired on Tuesday. He had been self-monitoring his temperature since returning from Guinea. When his temperature rose to 100.3 Thursday morning, Spencer contacted health authorities and was whisked off to Bellevue Hospital.

Before he developed the fever, Spencer traveled around the city, visiting at two restaurants, riding the subway and an Uber car, and bowling with friends at The Gutter bowling alley in Williamsburg.

Mayor de Blasio and health officials reassured city residents on Friday that Spencer was not contagious while he roamed, and that Ebola can only be caught when the infected person is showing symptoms of the disease, including fever and vomiting. His self-reporting of a fever followed CDC protocols, they said.

Dr. Spencer’s fiancée and two friends have been quarantined, but have not yet shown symptoms.

Cuomo also announced new screening protocols for Ebola at both JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports. New York and New Jersey’s departments of health will be empowered to make their own determinations “as to hospitalization, quarantine, and other public health interventions for up to 21 days,” Cuomo said.

New York and New Jersey will be coordinating supervision over travelers to the two states. The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Customs Border Patrol (CBP) will be required to provide a daily recap to state health departments.

“Since taking office, I have erred on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and protection of New Yorkers, and the current situation regarding Ebola will be no different,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo also announced the launch of a new state information line to answer public health questions from New Yorkers about Ebola: 1-800-861-2280.

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