HARTFORD, Conn. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Connecticut officials have joined counterparts in other states – including New York and New Jersey — in defending and detailing quarantine powers they’ve enacted as a precaution against the Ebola virus.
Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen announced Monday that all people coming to the state after traveling to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa will at least face 21 days of mandatory monitoring involving state health officials contacting them daily.
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As in New York and New Jersey, a mandatory quarantine may be ordered in some cases.
“We’re going to interview every person that we’re informed is coming to our state after travel from West Africa, and based on those interviews, we’re going to make a determination whether quarantine immediately is required – and we have to quarantine individuals – or active monitoring – that is where someone is responsible for making sure that temperature is being taken once or twice a day for 21 days,” Malloy told WCBS 880 Monday night.
Malloy explained that people will be evaluated based on a detailed analysis of their symptoms and background.
“If you’re in a low-risk category, or you are no longer at risk of being exposed under any circumstance – you’re not traveling from West Africa; you’re here; you weren’t in a portion of West Africa that had an active Ebola outbreak; you weren’t someone who was treating folks – then you have low risk factors other than the fact that you may have gone to an airport,” he said. “That’s a very different situation than someone who presents themselves having been exposed to individuals who have had the Ebola virus.”
There were already people quarantined in Connecticut as of Monday, Malloy said.
Some of those quarantined had isolated themselves voluntarily, others “based on a high level of exposure on their travel or their immigration from West Africa,” Malloy said.
Eight people in Connecticut without any symptoms were quarantined as of Monday night. A ninth person in Darien was removed from quarantine earlier Monday.
Malloy authorized quarantines earlier this month.
Their announcement came amid complaints about a screening and quarantine policy announced jointly by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Friday. Even before the announcement, nurse Kaci Hickox was forcibly quarantined at a hospital isolation unit in New Jersey for possible Ebola.
She was released four days later after testing negative. But she complained about her treatment and was talking about suing to protect the rights of other health care workers.
“I think this is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” Hickox said from a tent at University Hospital on Monday.
But Christie and Cuomo both defended the New York-New Jersey policy, which requires those with the highest level of possible exposure will be automatically quarantined for 21 days at a government-regulated facility. As WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported, those patients include anyone having direct contact with a person infected with Ebola while in Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone.
Since Hickox “had direct exposure to individuals suffering from the Ebola virus in one of the three West African nations,” health officials said she was “subject to a mandatory New Jersey quarantine order.”
Christie and Cuomo both defended the policy and its use. But Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Thomas Frieden expressed worry the measures go too far.
He announced a new set of safety guidelines on Monday which increase the level of protection by outlining four different levels of exposure – high risk, some risk, low risk but not zero, and no identified risk.
But Malloy said he did not agree, and preemptive and prophylactic quarantines were warranted and necessary.
“I’d rather play it safe on that side of individuals traveling to our country, having been exposed to people who have active Ebola – to make sure that we don’t go through what’s gone through in West Africa,” Malloy said.
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