New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo struck a more conciliatory tone on
Sunday about the new quarantine policy after the White House said
that mandatory isolation could impede the Ebola fight, while an
attorney for a nurse who has been quarantined since returning from
West Africa said she planned to sue.
Responding to concerns that mandatory quarantine would inhibit
doctors and nurses from traveling to West Africa, Cuomo said New
York wanted to encourage personnel to go, lauding their "valor" and
"compassion," while also protecting public safety at home.
Healthcare workers and travelers exposed to people with Ebola and
who live in New York can stay in their homes for the 21-day
quarantine, checked upon twice daily by healthcare professionals,
Cuomo said, adding that the state would provide financial assistance
The White House had voiced its concern to the governors of New York
and New Jersey about the potential impact of quarantine orders, a
senior administration official said.
"We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and other states
know that we have concerns with the unintended consequences of
policies not grounded in science may have on efforts to combat Ebola
at its source in West Africa," the Obama administration official
said in a statement.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie first announced the quarantine policy
on Friday, and on Sunday night reiterated that the terms had not
A New Jersey resident who had contact with someone with Ebola would
be quarantined at home. Non-residents would be transported home if
feasible or quarantined in New Jersey.
"These people are extraordinary for their valor and their courage
and their compassion," Cuomo said. "Anything we can do to encourage
it, we want to do."
He added that New York was not changing the policy announced on
NURSE CONTESTS QUARANTINE
Christie sounded less placating than Cuomo in remarks he made about
the quarantined nurse, who went public over hours of questioning at
Newark Liberty International Airport and her transfer to a hospital
Nurse Kaci Hickox, the first health worker isolated under the rules,
was placed in 21-day quarantine in a New Jersey hospital after
returning from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She will
fight her quarantine in court, her attorney said on Sunday, arguing
the order violates her constitutional rights.
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New Jersey, New York and Illinois are imposing quarantines on anyone
arriving with a high risk of having contracted Ebola in Sierra
Leone, Liberia and Guinea, where the epidemic has killed nearly
"I understand that this has made this woman uncomfortable, and Iím
sorry," Christie told reporters. "I have the people in New Jersey as
my first and foremost responsibility to protect."
Medical professionals note that Ebola is extremely difficult to
catch, spread through direct contact with bodily fluids from an
infected person and not transmitted by asymptomatic people.
Angry over her confinement, Hickox, a Texas native, planned to file
a federal lawsuit this week, her attorney said. She remains
asymptomatic and has not tested positive for Ebola, prominent civil
liberties lawyer Norman Siegel said.
The new rules were imposed a day after a New York doctor, Craig
Spencer, was diagnosed with Ebola after he returned from treating
patients in Guinea. Spencer moved freely around the city before he
had symptoms that would make him contagious.
Now hospitalized in isolation, he appeared slightly improved but
remained in serious but stable condition on Sunday.
Spencer and Hickox worked with Doctors Without Borders, a charity
closely involved in the fight against the epidemic.
Only four people have been diagnosed with Ebola in the United
States. The first diagnosis, a Liberian visitor to Texas in
September who died, was riddled with missteps. Two nurses who
treated the man contracted the disease but have recovered.
(Additional reporting by Howard Schneider in Washington, Jonathan
Allen and Sebastien Malo in New York; Writing by Ellen Wulfhorst and
Frank McGurty; Editing by Chris Michaud and Jeremy Laurence)
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