In an effort to resolve the patchwork of Ebola policies from state to state, on Monday the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued new guidelines on how to handle travelers at high risk for contracting the disease. The CDC says even people who have no symptoms should stay away from commercial transportation and public gatherings for 21 days if they had direct contact with the bodily fluids of an Ebola patient. If they did not have direct contact with an Ebola patient, isolation is not necessary.
CDC Director Tom Frieden criticized mandatory quarantines for medical workers, which are still in place in New York and New Jersey. “If we do things that make it very difficult for people to come back, if we turn them into pariahs instead of recognizing the heroic work that they’re doing, a couple of things may happen that none of us want to happen,” Dr. Frieden said, adding that it may encourage people to lie about the kind of contact they had with Ebola patients.
Since each state sets its own quarantine rules, governors can keep imprisoning health-care workers if they want. The army immediately undermined the federal government’s new guidelines by announcing that soldiers returning from West Africa are being quarantined for 21 days, though they show no signs of illness and had no direct contact with Ebola patients.