NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — New York state and New York City will create a program to offer financial incentives and employment protections to encourage medical workers to go to West Africa to fight Ebola.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio announced the program Thursday.

The incentives would ensure that health care workers heading to West Africa to treat patients with the deadly disease would have their pay, health care and employment status continue when they return.

“Health care professionals are needed, and we happen to be one of the parts of the country with the finest hospitals, teaching hospitals, medical schools,” de Blasio said Thursday at the Javits Center in Manhattan, WCBS 880’s Rich Lamb reported. “We happen to be one of the places where a lot of the great medical talent resides.”

De Blasio called the doctors, nurses and other health care workers who volunteer their time to fight Ebola in West Africa “heroes, plain and simple,” 1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reported.

The mayor noted that there is currently only one case of in Ebola in the United States.

“The problem is not here,” he said. “The problem is at the root cause and the three countries (in West Africa), and we’ve got to get medical professionals over.

“This is a fight to protect the health care of people around the world, including the health care of the United States of America.”

The state would also give necessary reimbursements to health care workers and their employers for anyone who would need to be quarantined once they return to New York.

Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s joint policy of quarantining those suspected of having direct contact with Ebola patients has been criticized by health experts and federal officials who say it could discourage medical workers from traveling to Africa.

On Sunday, Cuomo backpedaled 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.

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

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

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