The states of New York and New Jersey will not change their decision to quarantine health workers returning from countries hit by the Ebola epidemic, despite concerns voiced by the White House over the move. Instead, the governors of both states, who had earlier asked that people returning from Ebola-affected regions be hospitalized, have modified the rule to allow people to be isolated in their homes.
While the White House has voiced concern over the mandatory quarantine and has said that the isolation could hamper the fight against the virus' spread, a nurse traveling back from Sierra Leone after treating Ebola patients is reportedly preparing to sue the state of New Jersey for its quarantine law, which has kept her isolated in a Newark hospital.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that New York-based health care workers and travelers exposed to people with Ebola will need to stay in their homes for 21 days and will be examined for symptoms twice a day. He also added that the state is willing to provide financial assistance if needed, Reuters reported.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie had announced the policy on Friday night and re-emphasized on Sunday that the terms of the quarantine in the state have not changed except to allow quarantined persons to be under lockdown at home.
Mandatory quarantines are being imposed by the states of New York, New Jersey and Illinois after Craig Spencer, a New York doctor, tested positive for the virus following his return from Guinea.
New Jersey-based nurse Kaci Hickox is set to file a lawsuit against the state for its quarantine policy. Hickox, who landed on Friday at Newark Liberty International Airport from Sierra Leone, was reportedly taken to a tent at University Hospital in Newark and is quarantined there.
Hickox’s lawyer Norman Siegel said that her isolation had raised "serious constitutional and civil liberties issues," as the nurse has not shown any symptoms and has not tested positive for the Ebola virus, Reuters reported. The lawsuit would be the first one to contest the 21-day mandatory quarantine by New Jersey.
"This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated," Hickox said, according to CNN, referring to Christie’s policy, adding: “First of all, I don't think he's a doctor; secondly, he's never laid eyes on me; and thirdly, I've been asymptomatic since I've been here."
Christie defended his actions Sunday saying: “I understand that this has made this woman uncomfortable, and I’m sorry," according to Reuters, adding: "I have the people in New Jersey as my first and foremost responsibility to protect."
Siegel said, according to CNN, that he will file the lawsuit papers in the court in coming days and added that Hickox, had nothing to recover from.
An official from the Obama administration said, in a statement, according to Reuters: "We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola at its source in West Africa."