Via The New York Times: Notable Absence of New Ebola Quarantines at New York Area Airports. Excerpt:
A day after a doctor who had returned from Guinea about a week earlier became New York’s first Ebola case, the governors of New York and New Jersey announced that they would begin quarantining travelers who had been in contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.
The move, which went beyond federal policy, drew protests from medical aid groups and the Obama administration, who said it would penalize people who were trying to contain Ebola and discourage others from doing so.
But since Kaci Hickox, a nurse, flew into Newark’s airport on Oct. 24 and was kept at a hospital for three days, no one else has been caught up in the quarantine dragnet at the New York and New Jersey airports.
The absence of quarantines is striking, not only because both governors emphatically defended the policy as a necessary precaution, but also because most people returning from Ebola-stricken countries arrive in the United States through Kennedy and Newark Liberty International Airports.
Several aid organizations have American health care workers in West Africa, a handful of whom return every week. But New York and New Jersey officials say no one coming through the two airports since Ms. Hickox has reported direct contact with Ebola patients.
“I don’t think we can speculate on whether or not it’s out of the ordinary,” Monica Mahaffey, a spokeswoman for the New York State Health Department, said.
Possible explanations, based on interviews with several doctors who served in West Africa and the organizations they worked with, are that health care workers are delaying their returns to the United States, or they are deliberately avoiding the two airports if they have been exposed to Ebola patients in the 21 days before arrival, which could subject them to quarantine.
A New York-based doctor with AmeriCares said that he and some colleagues were planning to spend three weeks in Europe after their tours, to avoid coming home to a quarantine in the United States.
Doctors Without Borders workers have sometimes done the same thing, Tim Shenk, a spokesman, said.
The federal government, which requires the monitoring of some returning workers but not a quarantine, has been asking airlines to route travelers returning from Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and, beginning last week, Mali, through one of five airports: Kennedy, Newark, Washington Dulles International, O’Hare International in Chicago, and Hartsfield-Jackson International in Atlanta.
Doctors and organizations said that some aid workers have been carefully considering which of those airports would be most advantageous to enter through, and that many believe Dulles to be a better option, because the quarantine policy in Virginia, where Dulles is, is less stringent than in New York and New Jersey.