White House to Announce Guidelines For Ebola Health Workers

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The Obama administration will announce on Monday afternoon new monitoring guidelines for health workers returning to the U.S. after treating patients in West Africa, while even deep-blue states are countering federal policy. 

White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Monday the guidelines will be released Monday afternoon. It’s not expected to include mandatory quarantines for health workers, but is an attempt to stay criticism that the White House opposes states’ measures on controlling the spread of Ebola by health professionals, without actually delineating a policy of its own.

“These kinds of policies should be driven by science and the best scientific advice that is available,” Earnest said while announcing the policy Monday. “State and local officials have broad authority to impose quarantine policies in their own localities.”

Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Republican Gov. Chris Christie and Democratic Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn have all established automatic quarantines for health care workers that are returning from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa. Cuomo and Quinn, who are normally allies of the administration, have come out against the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s policy of “active monitoring” for Ebola workers alone.

In New York, Cuomo is allowing health care workers to be quarantined at home and be compensated for lost income, he said Sunday. Christie released the first nurse on Monday who was quarantined under the new policy at a New Jersey hospital, Kaci Hickox, (who’s had a big problem with it) to Maine, where she lives. Maine will have Hickox quarantined at home as well.

“I’m asking those people who were in contact with infected people — stay at home for 21 days. We will pay,” Cuomo said in a press conference Monday. “Enjoy your family, enjoy your friends, read a book, read my book — you don’t have to read my book — but stay at home for 21 days.”

Cuomo said he’s “in disagreement with the CDC’s policy” not to quarantine health workers who had contact with Ebola patients and said it’s not an undue burden — a sharp contrast to the White House, where Earnest said Monday that states’ quarantines do unduly burden workers.

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