Cuomo Softens Tone in Outline of Ebola Plan Amid Criticism

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from The New York Times,

Offering the first detailed account of how New York State’s quarantine order for health care workers returning from West Africa will be put into effect, the Cuomo administration has issued guidelines that go beyond federal recommendations but seek to allow individuals to spend their enforced isolation in a location of their choosing.

The state documents, copies of which were obtained by The New York Times, show an effort by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s administration to portray the quarantine in a humane manner.

President Obama, speaking at the White House on Tuesday, said that it was critical that policies dealing with returning health care workers do nothing that might discourage them from going to fight the disease where it is most needed in West Africa.

“I want to make sure that every policy we put in place is supportive of their efforts,” he said. While not commenting specifically on the orders issued by several states, which go beyond the federal guidelines, he said it was important that decisions were made based on “science,” not “fear.”

The protocols in New York, as outlined in the documents, are meant to ensure “a respectful and supportive approach” to arriving travelers, who are supposed to be “treated with the utmost respect and concern,” according to a document prepared by the State Health Department that outlines the screening procedures.

Although Mr. Cuomo warned of the possibility of quarantine “at a government-regulated facility” when he and Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey first announced the policy last week, the state protocols make clear that is not the state’s desired option for travelers arriving in New York. “Preference should be given to quarantining the passenger in his or her residence,” the Health Department document says.

Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday that no one had flown into Kennedy International Airport from the affected region since the order was put in place.

Mr. Christie continued to defend his state’s mandatory quarantine program on Tuesday morning, even as a growing number of scientists and public health experts condemned the restrictions as overly broad and possibly harmful in the fight against Ebola in West Africa.

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