Romney on Ebola quarantines: 'Better safe than sorry'

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) is wading into the debate over whether states should implement mandatory quarantines for healthcare workers returning home after treating Ebola patients in West Africa.

ADVERTISEMENT

"I'm on the side of better safe than sorry," Romney said in an interview aired on MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Wednesday.

New York, New Jersey and other states late last week pushed forward with strict 21-day quarantines for high-risk workers returning to the U.S.

Govs. Andrew Cuomo (D-N.Y.) and Chris Christie (R-N.J.) have since backed down, after the White House offered criticism of the policy.

Christie let a quarantined nurse return home to Maine, after she criticized her treatment and tested negative for the virus, though Christie insists his decision was not a reversal.

"I'd probably say, look, let's take every possible precaution," Romney said, before softening and saying it "touches our heart," when a healthcare worker decides to go overseas to combat the disease, adding they could be compensated and fed while under quarantine.

"But you know, we just want to be really, really safe," he added. "I know we're feeling our way here, but I think people recognize that you don't possibly want to have the spread of something like Ebola in our nation.”

The two-time Republican presidential contender added that President Obama and his administration, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), should face the toughest criticism, calling Obama the "spectator in chief."

"Different states will try different things, but fundamentally this is something the CDC should have thought through from the very beginning," Romney said, adding protocols should have been in place to handle the first patient diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S.

On Monday, the CDC said it would recommend voluntary at-home isolation for healthcare workers returning from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone at the highest risk of contracting Ebola.

On Tuesday, Obama praised the workers as "doing God's work over there."

Romney, who remained coy on whether he has any plans to launch a third White House bid, said those world leaders that he has spoken with "are looking for American leadership."