The Obama administration says it has conveyed its concerns to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo about those states’ mandatory Ebola quarantines.
The administration is calling the policy “not grounded in science,” but is stopping short of formally asking the governors to change course.
A senior Obama administration official says the policy could undermine efforts to stop Ebola by discouraging medical workers from traveling to West Africa. The official wasn’t authorized to comment by name and requested anonymity.
President Barack Obama met Sunday with his Ebola response team.
Meanwhile, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert warned that the mandatory, 21-day quarantining of medical workers returning from West Africa is unnecessary and could discourage volunteers from traveling to the danger zone.
“The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those health-care workers, so we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
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.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Sunday defended quarantining as necessary to protect the public and predicted it “will become a national policy sooner rather than later.”
“I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system,” said Christie, who is expected to run for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. He added: “I absolutely have no second thoughts about it.”