NY and NJ Soften Policies On Mandatory Quarantines

New York and New Jersey have both softened the policies requiring medical workers traveling from West Africa to be isolated in a hospital for 21 days.

NY and NJ Soften Policies On Mandatory Quarantines
Getty Images / Bryan Thomas

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie have both softened the controversial policies requiring medical workers traveling from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients be isolated in a hospital for 21 days.

The New York Times first reported after receiving pressure from the White House, Cuomo adjusted the state's new guidelines so aid workers returning from West Africa who do not show Ebola symptoms wouldn't have to undergo a mandatory hospital quarantine. Instead: (Video via WNYW)

WABC: "Governor Cuomo said people would be isolated at home and monitored by health care workers twice a day. If a person shows symptoms they will be taken to a hospital immediately."

President Obama has previously urged a handful of states with similar policies to pull back their strict stance on medical workers returning from West Africa. The administration also said the U.S. is planning to put in place new federal guidelines for all states to follow. (Video via NY1)

The Times also reports Governor Chris Christie said New Jersey will also adjust its policy to something similar to what New York has done. Still, Christie's decision to align with Cuomo comes just after one aid worker's attorney said he planned to file a civil rights lawsuit to get her out of isolation.

Kaci Hickox, the first nurse quarantined at University Hospital in Newark, New Jersey had preliminarily tested negative for Ebola but was still forced into the mandatory hospital isolation unit.  

Hickox has since lawyered up and plans to challenge Governor Christie's prior mandate. There's no word if she still plans to pursue that in light of the state's modified provisions, though she hasn't been cleared to return home yet.

She told CNN Sunday the mandatory quarantine is a "knee-jerk reaction by politicians." Hickox also said "to quarantine someone without a better plan in place, without more forethought, is just preposterous."

KACI HICKOX VIA CNN"To quarantine everyone. ... And to make me stay for 21 days to not be with my family, to put me through this emotional and physical stress, is completely unacceptable."

Hickox's lawyer also spoke to reporters.
ATTORNEY STEVEN HYMAN VIA NBC"We believe that that policy infringes on the constitutional liberty interests ... We think that the policy is overly broad."

Both governors, Cuomo and Christie, had said they issued mandatory quarantines to protect residents in their respective states on a larger scale, though many in the health care industry called it an over-reaction to keep the deadly disease out of the U.S.

Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases is one of them. He told ABC those types of strict mandates could have worse implications, such as preventing aid workers from joining the cause in West Africa — which, he says, is the best way to kill the problem.

ANTHONY FAUCI VIA ABC"There are different levels of risk to a health care worker. ... If you put everyone in one basket, even people who are clearly no threat, then we have the problem of the disincentive of people that we need."

The White House has yet to release a timetable for the new federal guidelines for those traveling from West Africa to the U.S.

This video includes images from Getty Images.