Update 2:55 p.m.: The New York Times reported the White House has pressured New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to reverse the recently announced airport-screening policies that have come under scrutiny by medical experts. Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined in Newark, spoke to CNN and said she hired a lawyer to challenge the quarantine.
Original Story Below:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie defended new airport-screening policies to combat Ebola virus disease that were adopted by three U.S. states in recent days, while Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, knocked them during appearances on “Fox News Sunday” this weekend.
Christie said he and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo correctly decided it was in the “public-health interest” to mandate 21-day quarantines of certain air travelers in response to the Ebola outbreak. The two governors announced Friday new airport-screening policies that include mandatory quarantines for travelers from West Africa deemed to be high risk. “I think it will be national policy soon,” Christie said. Whether it is or isn’t, it is the Land of Lincoln’s policy now, as Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn also has ordered its implementation, the Chicago Tribune reported.
Some have criticized the three states’ new airport-screening policies because they say it could deeply affect volunteer efforts to halt the Ebola outbreak at its source in West Africa due to the fact doctors and nurses likely would be prime candidates for mandatory quarantines. Fauci said he had similar concerns about the policies: “I think we’ll have negative consequences, I would not have recommended it.”
U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., also criticized the new airport-screening policies on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) October 26, 2014
The first person to be quarantined under the new policy was Kaci Hickox, a nurse who had cared for Ebola patients while on assignment with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone. Hickox was quarantined after her arrival at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday. She recounted her quarantine experience in an essay published in the Dallas Morning News Saturday.
In the essay, Hickox expressed concern that the new policy would hinder humanitarian efforts. “I am scared about how health-care workers will be treated at airports when they declare that they have been fighting Ebola in West Africa. I am scared that, like me, they will arrive and see a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine,” she wrote. Tests conducted since the nurse was quarantined show she does not have Ebola.
On “Fox News Sunday,” Fauci echoed the sentiments expressed by U.S. President Barack Obama during his weekly address Saturday. Obama urged the public to be “guided by the science” with respect to Ebola, and Fauci agreed in his answers to questions about the new policies. “That doesn’t mean we’re cavalier about it, but that means there are other steps that you can protect American people based on the scientific evidence that does not necessarily go so far as to possibly have unintended consequences of disincentivizing health-care workers,” Politico quoted him as saying.
Fauci reiterated his stance on the Ebola mandatory-quarantine policy and its “unintended consequences” on “State of the Union.”
Morgan Dixon, the fiancee of Dr. Craig Spencer, the first confirmed Ebola patient in New York, returned to the couple’s apartment Saturday night. Spencer is being treated at Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan, where he has entered the next phase of Ebola infection after experiencing gastrointestinal symptoms. Dixon will be self-quarantined for 21 days.