Mayor Urges Support For Health Care Workers At Bellevue Hospital


NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Governors Chris Christie and Andrew Cuomo have taken steps to clarify their stances on mandatory Ebola quarantines following pressure from the Obama administration.

Gov. Cuomo backpedaled Sunday on his insistence that medical workers returning to New York from Ebola-stricken countries would have to undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine at a government-regulated facility.

Procedures outlined by Doctors Without Borders require that any health care workers exposed to Ebola stay out of work for three weeks, Cuomo said he now looks to take that one step further.

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The governor, in a joint news conference with Mayor Bill de Blasio, said health care workers and citizens who have had exposure to Ebola patients in West Africa will be asked to stay in their homes for the 21-day quarantine.

During the 21 days, the quarantined person will be checked on twice a day by health care professionals to take their temperature and evaluate their condition, Cuomo said.

“My personal practice is to air on the side of caution. Over the past four years as governor I’ve gone through floods, hurricanes, blizzards — I’m waiting for the locusts, there were no locusts yet, but I wouldn’t be shocked if they arrived,” he said. “…The old expression is hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, and that is exactly what we have done for four years in New York and it served us well.”

If a quarantined individual develops symptoms, the governor said they would be transferred to a hospital.

Cuomo added that if a health care worker’s organization or employer refuses to pay for the individual to stay home for three weeks, the state will.

“If the employer is going to put them at a disadvantage because of the three weeks, we will talk to the employer to explain that situation if necessary,” the governor added.

The governor also outlined two other scenarios related to travelers from West Africa, CBS 2’s Tracee Carrasco reported.

If a person arrives in New York and has symptoms of the virus they will be transported in protective gear to a designated hospital.

Or if a person arrives from one of the affected areas with no symptoms and had no direct contact with the virus, they will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

The move comes amid pressure from the Obama administration and a federal disease expert who voiced concerns earlier Sunday that New Jersey and New York’s mandatory government-regulated facility quarantine would discourage volunteers from going to West Africa to help fight the deadly virus.

Cuomo said he has informed the White House of the new safety protocols and denies that he has been asked to reconsider his initial decision on mandatory quarantines, Carrasco reported.

Gov. Chris Christie’s office issued a statement late Sunday night saying “A New Jersey resident with no symptoms, but who has come into contact with someone with Ebola, such as a health care provider, would be subject to a mandatory quarantine order and quarantined at home. Non-residents would be transported to their homes if feasible.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Bill de Blasio had some harsh words for New Yorkers who have reportedly been mistreating health care workers at Bellevue Hospital Center, where the city’s first Ebola patient is being treated.

The mayor urged residents to support the city’s health care workers on Sunday.

“We heard reports in the last few days of nurses being mistreated in our city, and it became clear they worked at Bellevue…,” de Blasio said. “We heard reports of people being unwilling to serve them food or treating their children differently. That is absolutely unacceptable.”

De Blasio said now is a time when city residents need to come together and respect first responders and health care workers as they fight to keep the city safe.

“I do not see people disrespecting soldiers in war-time or police or fire in the middle of a crisis that they respond to. I will not accept anyone disrespecting our nurses or our other medical personnel,” the mayor said.

De Blasio said he has visited the isolation floor at Bellevue Hospital Center and lauded the staff’s professionalism during a time of crisis.

“The people who work there were calm and cool and collected. They were purposeful,” he said.

Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive for Ebola on Thursday.

On Sunday, President of the New York City Health and Hospital Corporation Dr. Ram Raju offered an update on Spencer’s condition, saying he looks better than he did on Saturday.

“…But his condition continues to be serious, but stable with the expected symptoms of the virus,” he said.

Dr. Raju added that Spencer was given plasma therapy as he continues to fight the disease, WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported.

Mayor de Blasio visited with Spencer on Sunday, and said he was “looking better.”

The mayor also continued to urge calm, 1010 WINS’ Roger Stern reported.

“There is no reason for New Yorkers to be alarmed,” he said. “This is a very difficult disease to contract.”

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