Who would have thought that in order for the United States to finally do something more substantial in terms of travel restrictions from Ebola affected nations we would have to rely on the dynamic duo of… Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie?
Healthcare workers returning to New York or New Jersey from treating Ebola patients in West Africa will be placed under a mandatory quarantine, officials announced a day after a Doctors Without Borders MD was diagnosed with the virus in New York City.
N.J. Gov. Chris Christie and N.Y. Gov. Andrew Cuomo made the announcement as part of a broader procedural plan to help protect the densely packed, highly populated area from any further spread of the disease.
This came on the heels of not only the bowling, Uber Cab riding Ebola doctor, but then a second, unnamed healthcare worker in Newark who was already in quarantine, began showing symptoms.
The health care worker who had been under quarantine earlier today has developed a fever and is being evaluated at University Hospital in Newark for the possibility of Ebola, according to the N.J. Department of Health.
The unnamed health worker had appeared healthy when she landed at Newark Liberty International Airport Friday, officials said, but she was was quarantined anyway because of her proximity to Ebola victims.
Officials said the woman was a U.S. citizen who began her trip back to the United States in Sierra Leone, one of the three West African countries struggling to contain the outbreak of the deadly virus.
She was the first airline traveler to be quarantined under the policy announced earlier in the day by the governors of New Jersey and New York.
Cuomo was a bit long winded and technical in his announcement, as is his wont. Christie, as you would expect, was a bit more blunt.
“You don’t have to hit us across the head more than once,” he said.
As of this morning, the worker in question actually wound up delivering a negative, preliminary test for Ebola, so she may simply wind up having the flu. But she remains in quarantine until more tests are done and conclusive results are obtained. Still, it was enough to shake up the system, particularly in New Jersey.
Christie went on to say, We are no longer relying on CDC standards. We will ensure that New York and New Jersey standards are met. The assembled press corps completely failed to summon up one person to say that it was about time. These new restrictions go well beyond what the Obama administration has been willing to commit to so far. Department of Health officials from each state will now be on the ground at both JFK and Newark airports to monitor all flights with passengers coming from anywhere near the affected regions. All healthcare workers arriving there who have been working in those countries will go into quarantine. Anyone else coming from the region, even if they are not healthcare workers and weren’t in contact with the afflicted will be evaluated on a case by case basis to determine who will go into quarantine and who will be monitored and put on restricted travel and interaction with the public.
Even if we dodged a bullet on this latest worker, it was enough to show us what the system is supposed to look like when it’s working. Seeing Christie do this doesn’t come as all that much of a surprise, since – to put it kindly – he does not suffer the federal government gladly. But to see Cuomo override the CDC was something of a shock. I rarely agree with Cuomo on his policy decisions, but in this case my hat is off. Well done to both of them.