Report: White House pushing NY, NJ to reverse quarantines

The White House is pushing New York and New Jersey to reverse controversial Ebola quarantines for healthcare workers returning from West Africa, but to no avail, The New York Times reports.

According to the story, senior Obama administration officials have been in contact with New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) ever since they instituted the quarantines on Friday, pleading with them to take another approach.

On Sunday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, suggested monitoring healthcare workers returning from West Africa instead, and only quarantining them if they begin to show symptoms of Ebola.

“We’re being a little bit draconian,” he said of the quarantines.

But Christie and Cuomo both defended the quarantines in their respective states. Furthermore, Illinois has since decided to quarantine these healthcare workers.

“I have great respect for Dr. Fauci, but what he’s counting on is a voluntary system with folks that may or may not comply,” Christie said.

“I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that you can count on a voluntary system,” he added.

“We have been taking a close look at policies for returning healthcare workers, recognizing that these medical professionals’ selfless efforts to fight this disease on the frontlines will be critical to bringing this epidemic under control, the only way to eliminate the risk of additional cases here at home,” a senior administration official said late Sunday.

“We have let the governors of New York, New Jersey, and others 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 official said.

“We have also let these states know that we are working on new guidelines for returning healthcare workers that will protect the American people against imported cases, while, at the same time, enabling us to continue to tackle this epidemic in West Africa,” the official added.

More consultations with state officials are expected as the guidelines are developed, the official said.

—This report was updated at 6:56 p.m.

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