Fauci calls Ebola quarantines 'draconian'

A top health official helping to coordinate the government’s response to Ebola says quarantining healthcare workers returning from West Africa would be a “draconian” response to the crisis.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday those returning healthcare workers should be treated like “heroes.”

“We need to treat returning people with respect ... they’re really heroes,” Fauci said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We’re being a little bit draconian,” he added.

Fauci made the rounds on the Sunday morning political talk shows for the second consecutive week, also speaking on "Fox News Sunday," CBS's "Face the Nation" and ABC's "This Week."  

His comments come after officials in New York, New Jersey and Illinois announced quarantines for healthcare workers returning from West Africa after a doctor tested positive for the deadly virus.

Fauci warned that overly aggressive quarantines could make healthcare workers "very, very uncomfortable” and discourage them from volunteering.

"The best way to protect us is to stop the epidemic in Africa, and we need those healthcare workers,” Fauci said on "Fox News Sunday.” "So we do not want to put them in a position where it makes it very, very uncomfortable for them to even volunteer to go."

"If we don’t have our people volunteering to go over there, then you’re going to have other countries around the world that are not going to do it, and then the epidemic will continue to roar,” he added.

Fauci said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is looking for a solution short of a quarantine to contain Ebola. That could include monitoring of healthcare workers who have been exposed to the deadly virus.

Fauci suggested three levels of monitoring, depending on the healthcare worker’s exposure to Ebola.

The first is passive monitoring, where healthcare workers monitor their own temperature and only report concerns.

The second is active monitoring, where healthcare workers monitor and report their temperature.

The third is active direct monitoring, where health officials would come to their homes and monitor their temperature.

“That’s all short of quarantine,” Fauci said.

“The primary goal is to protect the American people, but there’re ways to do that that may not necessarily have to go that far at all,” he added.