Is mandatory quarantine the answer to contain Ebola outbreak in the USA?

Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York based physician who cared for Ebola patients through Doctors Without Borders, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital receiving care.

Dr. Craig Spencer, a New York- based physician who cared for Ebola patients through Doctors Without Borders, is now in isolation at Bellevue Hospital receiving care.

On Saturday, October 25, The World Health Organization (WHO) released figures which show that more than 10,000 persons have been infected with Ebola, with almost 5,000 dying from the disease as the infection rate grows internationally.

However, those infected with the disease since the outbreak began in March, are confined mainly to three West African countries: Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea. 20 cases were reported in Nigeria, which has now been declared Ebola-free, one in Mali, four in the United States, one in Spain and one in Senegal. In the United States, one person, Thomas Eric Duncan, a Liberian national who was visiting family in Texas, has died from the disease.

The other infected persons are all health care workers who either cared for Duncan or other infected persons while performing humanitarian missions in the countries ravaged by the disease. So debate now rages about the actions taken by governors in Illinois, Florida, New York and New Jersey in enforcing mandatory quarantine for any person who returns to US soil after being in contact with Ebloa-infected individuals in West Africa.

This action comes on the heels of New York-based Doctors Without Borders physician Craig Spencer, 33, who was transported to Bellevue Hospital in lower Manhattan on Thursday, October 23, where he later tested positive for Ebola. Spencer returned from a mission caring for Ebola patients on October 17 and though he self-monitored, and contacted medical officials when his temperature spiked, his actions caused panic among New Yorkers, some of whom believe that he placed others at risk by failing to place himself into quarantine immediately upon his return to the USA, as a precautionary measure.

ABC medical director Dr. Richard Besser, who has himself travelled to Liberia to work with Ebola-stricken patients, warns that the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), where he previously worked, are sufficient. Those guidelines require people returning to the US from Ebola-stricken areas take their temperature twice per day for 21 days, as Besser did, and immediately report to the hospital if a high temperature occurs. But Governors Andrew Cuomo (D-New York) and Chris Christie (R- New Jersey), beg to differ, insisting that mandatory quarantine is the only way to safeguard the public. Who is right?

NJ Governor Christie’s hypocrisy revealed, his staff endanger lives

New Jersey Governor Republican Chris Christie.

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems pensive as his governorship is engulfed in controversy regarding chaos caused by deliberate lane closures on the George Washington Bridge.

By Carmen Glover

Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has basked in media coverage with an air of acceptance born out of his desire to be noticed constantly and praised repeatedly for the job he is doing for his constituents. But when emailed documentation were exposed yesterday by the Bergen Record and other media outlets, revealing the manner in which aides in his office intentionally put the public at risk, Christie was nowhere to be found until the end of the day.

The emailed documentation showed that two of his aides deliberately caused chaos and extreme gridlock on the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee this past summer as retribution to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, who refused to endorse Christie’s candidacy. Christie took an entire day before releasing a statement condemning the actions of his aides. Claiming that he did not endorse their conduct, Christie, who has held himself up as a paragon of virtue, sought to distance himself from their unsavory actions. Calling their behavior “unacceptable,” Christie said “I will not tolerate it.” But he did not indicate if people would be fired and if the town of Fort Lee would be reimbursed for the cost incurred by the extensive gridlock.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” read one email to David Wildstein, Christie’s then-appointee to the Port Authority. Wildstein, who has since resigned, then responded in the affirmative, “Got it.” Two lanes of traffic were subsequently closed on the bridge for days, resulting in delayed response times, traffic congestion and general inconvenience to the public.

David Wildstein, former NJ appointee to the Port Authority.

David Wildstein, former NJ Governor Chris Christie appointee to the Port Authority.

Speaking on MSNBC’s “All in With Chris Hayes” last night, Sokolich did not disguise his fury at the reckless conduct exhibited by Christie’s aides. The aides blocked lanes of the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee, delayed response times to 911 while inconveniencing residents and creating a travel nightmare on the highway. To make matters worse, they celebrated, rather than helped, when Sokolich asked for their assistance to ease the traffic congestion. “Is it wrong that I’m smiling?” one aide emailed to Wildstein, who replied ‘No.” They were generally dismissive of Sikolich’s pleas for intervention on behalf of his constituents, especially his appeals to ease the traffic delays that inconvenienced school children and those facing health emergencies.

“David Wildstein deserves an ass kicking. There I said it,” Sokolich said when asked what he would say to the aide who endorsed the punitive action. When asked why he did not endorse Christie, Sokolich said: “Because I believe in the Democratic principles.”

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Solochich was punished with traffic congestion on the GWB because he refused to endorse NJ Governor Chris Christie.

Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich was punished with traffic congestion on the GWB because he refused to endorse NJ Governor Chris Christie.

If it is proven that Christie’s political appointees have the freedom to make decisions that endanger others’ lives it is important that they are held responsible for any fall out their actions caused. It remains to be seen what steps Governor Christie will take, other than issuing the inadequate press release that he did last night, in holding his aides and appointees accountable for their reckless actions. There is also the question of Christie’s honesty when he denies prior knowledge of his aides’ actions. Did they really act without his approval, tacit or otherwise?

The public requires answers and swift, decisive action. Christie also needs to apologize to the people of Fort Lee and travelers who use the bridge, one of the nation’s busiest. Christie and his staff all contributed to this debacle and decisive action would be the best remedy. “This behavior is not representative of me,” Christie finally said in a statement at the end of the day, as a media firestorm swirled. But the statement appears to be too little, too late, for a man who desires to be president of the country, and who has not been shy to jockey for that office, while giving every indication that he is using his governorship as a stepping stone to get to what he views as his destiny: Becoming president of the United States. —

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