By Elizabeth Swain
In a press conference in New York City this afternoon, governors Chris Christie of New Jersey and Andrew Cuomo of New York appeared together to address rising concerns about the Ebola outbreak. Tensions heightened yesterday when Craig Spencer, a New York resident who had just returned from Guinea working with Doctors Without Borders, was diagnosed with Ebola.
Christie and Cuomo announced that a mandatory 21-day quarantine would take effect for anyone who had treated a patient with Ebola or deemed as “high-risk” passengers. This is in response to concerns about three of the four airports currently processing flights from the Ebola stricken countries are in New York and New Jersey [La Guardia, John F. Kennedy Airport, and Newark Liberty International Airport].
In addition, Christie and Cuomo have decided to increase screening procedures that are already in place by the Center for Disease Control. The two Governors’ notified the CDC of their increase in precautionary measures where they were told that they were allowed to establish their own means of security as individual states.
According to the New Jersey Governor’s Office, there will be real-time access to on-the-ground screening at JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports by New York and New Jersey Departments of Health staff;
- Each State Department of Health at JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports will, as permitted under applicable law, make its own determination as to hospitalization, quarantine, and other public health interventions for up to 21 days. There will also be a mandatory quarantine for any individual who had direct contact with an individual infected with the Ebola virus while in one of the three West African nations (Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea), including any medical personnel having performed medical services to individuals infected with the Ebola virus. Additionally, all individuals with travel history to the affected regions of West Africa, with no direct contact with an infected person, will be actively monitored by public health officials and, if necessary, quarantined, depending on the facts and circumstances of their particular situation;
- New York and New Jersey are establishing enhanced communication protocols between their respective state health departments to coordinate on matters pertaining to New York and New Jersey resident travelers who fly into Newark and JFK;
- The Centers of Disease Control (CDC) and Customs Border Patrol (CBP) will provide information to New York and New Jersey’s respective State Departments of Health on all screening on a real-time basis and provide a daily recap as to the status of that day’s screening and CDC determinations.
“Since taking office, I have erred on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and protection of New Yorkers, and the current situation regarding Ebola will be no different,” said Governor Cuomo. “The steps New York and New Jersey are taking today will strengthen our safeguards to protect our residents against this disease and help ensure those that may be infected by Ebola are treated with the highest precautions. I want to thank Governor Christie and his team for their spirit of partnership. This is an evolving situation but one that tests the ability of government to perform and as we have done in the past when facing similar challenges, we will do whatever is needed to put the health and safety of the people first.”
“I have been clear that we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the public health of the people of New Jersey which is exactly what these joint efforts with Governor Cuomo will do with additional screening and heightened standards for quarantine,” said Christie. “By demanding these enhanced measures, we are ensuring that any suspected cases are identified quickly and effectively, and that proper safeguards are executed.”