Sunday, October 26, 2014
Policy should never be determined by fear.
For example, on Friday, Governor Cuomo of New York and Governor Christie of New Jersey imposed a mandatory 21-day quarantine on people arriving from West Africa who have had contact with Ebola patients. They acted without consulting infectious disease experts or giving much, if any thought to how or by whom the quarantine should be implemented.
They also failed to give due respect and consideration to our returning medical volunteers whose heroic and selfless efforts to comfort and save those afflicted with Ebola deserve recognition and our heartfelt thanks.
Instead, read what happened to Kaci Hickox, a nurse who has basically been jailed in mandatory quarantine in a New Jersey hospital for 21 days after returning from Sierra Leone on Friday, despite testing negative for Ebola.
In her letter to the Dallas News, she describes “a frenzy of disorganization, fear and, most frightening, quarantine.” Her letter begins,
I arrived at the Newark Liberty International Airport around 1 p.m. on Friday, after a grueling two-day journey from Sierra Leone. I walked up to the immigration official at the airport and was greeted with a big smile and a “hello.”
I told him that I have traveled from Sierra Leone and he replied, a little less enthusiastically: “No problem. They are probably going to ask you a few questions.”
He put on gloves and a mask and called someone. Then he escorted me to the quarantine office a few yards away. I was told to sit down. Everyone that came out of the offices was hurrying from room to room in white protective coveralls, gloves, masks, and a disposable face shield.
One after another, people asked me questions. Some introduced themselves, some didn’t. One man who must have been an immigration officer because he was wearing a weapon belt that I could see protruding from his white coveralls barked questions at me as if I was a criminal.
To read the rest of her letter, go here.
This policy is ill informed and wrong on so many levels that I hardly know where to begin. Not only does it violate civil liberties and disrespect people who have risked their lives without financial compensation to save lives, but it also discourages others from volunteering at a time when medical assistance is desperately needed to prevent Ebola from spreading.