On Sunday, New Jersey governor Chris Christie defended the use of mandatory 21-day quarantines for all travelers returning through Newark who have had contact with Ebola patients, even as the White House pressures him and New York governor Andrew Cuomo to reverse the new mandate. Christie said he was not concerned that the aggressive rule and treatment of health care workers would dissuade American doctors from going overseas to combat the disease. “The fact of the matter is, CDC protocols…have been moving targets,” Christie said on Fox News Sunday.
Quarantined nurse Kaci Hickox, who returned from treating Ebola patients with Doctors Without Borders, wrote in an op-ed for the Dallas Morning News that she was faced with a “frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine” upon returning to the U.S. “I sat alone in the isolation tent and thought of many colleagues who will return home to America and face the same ordeal,” she wrote. “Will they be made to feel like criminals and prisoners?” Experts have also warned that the mandatory quarantines could discourage health workers from volunteering in West Africa. “It may be politically the obvious thing to do but it may well be counterproductive,” Columbia University epidemiology professor Stephen Morse told USA Today. “If people are forced to quarantine for three weeks that means most of them will not be able to do any sort of work and that means essentially lost income.”
Federal officials have reportedly been in daily contact with Cuomo and Christie, pressing them to rescind the quarantine order--but by now, two more states have instituted the same policy, Illinois and Florida. A senior White House administration official who spoke to the New York Times called the orders "uncoordinated, very hurried, an immediate reaction to the New York City case that doesn't comport with science."