While the federal government is trying to enforce a strategy for properly handling Ebola, some state governors and Army officials are imposing quarantines of the sort that the White House has opposed and that scientists call an ill-conceived overreaction.
President Barack Obama said any measures involving health care workers “should be crafted so as not to unnecessarily discourage those workers from serving.”
In Italy, a two-star Army general and 11 of his staff are in isolation near their base in Vicenza for 21 days, Ebola’s three-week incubation period, after their return from West Africa. And New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called federal health guidelines inadequate when they announced their quarantine plans on Friday. Illinois and Maryland’s governors made similar announcements. By Monday, other states followed suit.
A look at the top Ebola developments worldwide Monday:
Nurse Kaci Hickox, who was forced to spend the weekend in quarantine in an isolation tent at a New Jersey hospital after caring for patients in Sierra Leone, was released Monday and was returning to her home in Maine.
Officials said Hickox had been symptom-free for 24 hours. Hickox, who called her treatment “inhumane,” has said she never had symptoms and tested negative for Ebola in a preliminary evaluation.
Maine’s protocols will require her to be quarantined in her home for 21 days after the last possible exposure to the disease.
AMBASSADOR: US IN EBOLA FIGHT FOR LONG HAUL
Visiting the West African countries hardest-hit by the Ebola outbreak, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said the United States will help fight Ebola “for the long haul.”
“We have got to overcome the fear and the stigma that are associated with Ebola,” Power said.
The outbreak has killed nearly 5,000 people, the vast majority of them in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Many people hide in their homes rather than seek medical care because of fears that an Ebola diagnosis is an automatic death sentence and the social stigma attached to the disease, further fueling its spread.
U.N. HEAD OPPOSES QUARANTINE
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says the situation for returning health workers from Ebola-affected countries is proving difficult and that the stigma against them should end.
Ban spoke Monday on a trip to Ethiopia, where he called health workers managing the Ebola outbreak in West Africa “exceptional people.” Ban said the world depends on health workers to fight Ebola, and he said to government leaders: Please do not quarantine them.
His spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, told reporters that Ban also believes that “those who develop infections should be supported, not stigmatized.”
The U.N. has staffers in all three of the worst-hit countries in West Africa.
Family members of Thomas Eric Duncan, who was diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas after arriving from Liberia, say he did not get all the help they wanted before he died. They now question why his care was different in some ways than that of other patients treated in the U.S.
Of the nine people who have been treated in the U.S., only Duncan has died.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas spokesman Wendell Watson said “many treatment options” were considered. Ultimately, Duncan received two doses of an experimental drug and never left Dallas, where he died Oct. 8.
Experts disagree on whether using other drugs or treatments have made a difference, but they acknowledge it’s hard to know anything for certain because so little data is available.