Medical personnel returning to New York, New Jersey and Illinois from the Ebola-riddled countries in West Africa will be automatically quarantined if they had direct contact with an infected person, officials announced Friday.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) announced the decision at a joint news conference Friday at 7 World Trade Center.
“We have to do more,” Cuomo said. “It’s too serious of a situation to leave it to the honor system of compliance.”
They said that public-health officials at John F. Kennedy and Newark Liberty international airports, where enhanced screening for Ebola is taking place, would make the determination on who would be quarantined. Anyone who had direct contact with an Ebola patient in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be quarantined.
Illinois followed suit later in the day, with Gov. Pat Quinn calling the protective measure “too important to be voluntary.” Chicago’s O’Hare International is another of the five U.S. airports with the federally mandated enhanced screening protocols.
In addition, anyone who traveled there but had no such contact would be actively monitored and possibly quarantined, authorities said.
This news came a day after a doctor who had treated Ebola patients in Guinea was diagnosed in Manhattan, becoming the fourth person diagnosed with the virus in the United States and the first outside of Dallas.
And the decision came not long after a health-care worker who had treated Ebola patients in West Africa arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport. The health-care worker had no symptoms at the time but would still be quarantined, Christie said.
The New Jersey Department of Health announced Friday evening that the unidentified woman had “developed a fever and is now in isolation and being evaluated at University Hospital in Newark.” The woman does not live in the area, but she was planning on remaining in New York, according to Christie’s office.
The quarantines outlined by the governors — which will last for the 21-day period when people infected with Ebola can become symptomatic — come amid calls for quarantining all medical workers who return to the United States from the Ebola-stricken parts of West Africa.
Federal authorities are considering a mandatory quarantine, but they have said that no decision has been made.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has determined that states have the right to determine their own protocols for Ebola screening and quarantine, Cuomo’s office said.
[This post has been updated.]