The White House has been trying to persuade Governors Andrew Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey to reverse their decision ordering quarantines for all medical workers returning from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients, according to The New York Times.
New York, New Jersey and Illinois imposed 21-day mandatory quarantines in the last two days for anyone arriving with a risk of having contracted Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. They are the three West African countries that have borne the brunt of an epidemic that has killed nearly 5,000 people.
On Sunday, a senior U.S. medical official criticised the measures.
“I don’t want to be directly criticising the decision that was made but we have to be careful that there are unintended consequences,” said Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“The best way to stop this epidemic is to help the people in West Africa, we do that by sending people over there, not only from the U.S.A. but from other places,” Fauci told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” He called such quarantines “a little bit draconian.”
The states’ policies were abruptly imposed after a New York City doctor was diagnosed with the disease on Thursday after coming home from treating patients in Guinea.
The governors have thus far stood by their decisions, which is based on the argument that federal guidelines don’t go far enough.
A senior administration official told the Times that the the decision by the governors was “uncoordinated, very hurried, an immediate reaction to the New York City case that doesn’t comport with science.”
A nurse who arrived at Newark airport in New Jersey on Friday described hours of questioning by officials in protective gear and what she said was a mis-diagnosis of fever, followed by a transfer to a hospital isolation tent.
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