Quarantines in Newark and Princeton

Recently, there have been concerns that Ebola, the deadly virus that erupted in West Africa causing hemorrhagic fever, has made its way to Newark, New York, and Princeton. One such story is that of Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox who has been placed in quarantine for 21 days at the University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey because she helped to treat Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. However, she has been tested and has not contracted the disease. Still, New Jersey governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo require that anyone has who worked with or come into contact with Ebola patients must be quarantined, no matter how healthy they may appear.

This policy came into being after a recent New York City doctor was diagnosed with Ebola on October 23. This doctor, Craig Spencer, was working with patients in Guinea, geographically located at the heart of the disease. Spencer has been in an isolation unit in Bellevue Hospital Center in Manhattan since the outbreak of his case.

While Hickox is not a resident of New Jersey, she flew into the Newark-Liberty airport, one of the five airports in the US to receive passengers who have come into contact with Ebola patients. After contact, Hickox and others are required to stay in his or her home or a quarantine unit for 21 days.

Hospitals in New Jersey with Ebola treatment centers include Hackensack University Medical Center, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick and University Hospital in Newark. However, health workers and assistants to these quarantined patients will not have to go into treatment themselves. The governors of New York and New Jersey require that any passenger who arrives at a New York or New Jersey airport from affected West African countries have his or her temperature taken.

The governors did not abide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendation to allow for voluntary quarantine. New Jersey governor Chris Christie stated, “There are now New York-New Jersey standards for this. … We need to make sure that our standards are met before there is admission to either of our states.” This sentiment for states to make their own regulations seems to also be supported by the White House.

The governors also believe that there should be a more rigorous screening process at the airports, since people are not likely to quarantine themselves. This statement was made after Dr. Nancy Snyderman, an NBC news correspondent, was seen outside of a Princeton restaurant during her own quarantine. After previous mistakes concerning the spread of viruses, such as during the outbreak of Swine Flu, all are eager to avoid similar mishaps. While it is certainly necessary to take precautions, we must still remember that Ebola can only be spread through bodily fluids and that it is impossible for someone who is not symptomatic to spread the disease.

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