Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s order to quarantine all travelers from West Africa, even if they are symptom-free of the Ebola virus, has led to nine individuals who traveled to that region being held under quarantine.
An order signed by Malloy on October 7 declared a public health emergency in the state of Connecticut, reportedly enabling the Governor to give the public health commissioner, Dr. Jewel Mullen, the power, “under conditions prescribed” by her, to order the isolation or quarantine of anyone she reasonably believes to have been exposed to Ebola, infected with it, or at risk of transmitting it.
“Without the declaration, there is no statewide ability to isolate or quarantine – instead, the authority rests with each individual local public health director,” the order states.
As the New York Times reported, a spokesman for Malloy, said, “The governor has asked the department to act out of an abundance of caution, and that’s exactly what they are doing.”
The nine people are being confined to their homes for 21 days and will be monitored by public health authorities. Though they are not being publicly identified due to privacy concerns, officials said three of the individuals were Yale University students and the others were from one family in West Haven. At least some had traveled to West Africa.
Breitbart News contacted the Connecticut Department of Public Health for comment, but no return calls were received.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced on Wednesday that public health authorities will begin active post-arrival monitoring of travelers from the nations of Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea. These travelers are now being channeled to one of five airports where specialized entry screening is being conducted by CDC and Customs and Border Protection.
According to the CDC policies, those individuals traveling from these countries who have no symptoms of the Ebola virus, such as fever, will be followed up daily by state and local health departments for 21 days.
“In the event a traveler begins to show symptoms, public health officials will implement an isolation and evaluation plan following appropriate protocols to limit exposure, and direct the individual to a local hospital that has been trained to receive potential Ebola patients,” states CDC.
In an email statement to Breitbart News regarding the fact that Malloy’s order has led to non-symptomatic individuals being quarantined, Benjamin Haynes, senior press officer on the Infectious Disease Team at the CDC, said:
State and local officials make these decisions. We estimate state and local public health departments will be tracking approximately 3,000 travelers across the country with the implementation of the screening/monitoring program. We expect every state to participate in active monitoring. Since both state and local health departments will conduct the monitoring, the responsibility will be distributed across the country.
According to CTMirror.org, William Gerrish, a Connecticut health department spokesman, said, “The people under quarantine are not sick and do not present a risk to public health. The individuals will be in quarantine for 21 days, during which time they will be actively monitored by public health officials.”
The Connecticut chapter of the ACLU is questioning Malloy’s quarantine policy.
“We’re concerned about the potential for infringement of individual rights without reasonable cause, and we’re evaluating the state’s legal authority to quarantine people based only on their travel histories,” said Sandra Staub, Connecticut ACLU legal director. “We will be asking the state Department of Public Health to explain exactly how it will balance those rights against public health concerns.”
Andrew Doba, a spokesman for Malloy, said, “Our goal is to make sure that we protect both an individual’s rights and their health. These do not have to be mutually exclusive goals.”
“If you are not sick, but have traveled to affected areas or been in contact with an infected individual, you will be required to stay at home for 21 days and take your temperature twice a day,” Malloy, who is seeking re-election in November, said in an October 16 statement. “Public health workers will contact you twice a day by phone to see how you are doing. This is called quarantine.”
The chair of the Department of Health Sciences at Chicago’s DePaul University said Malloy’s order may be “overly cautious” in its quarantine policy, since people who don’t have Ebola symptoms can’t infect anyone with the disease.
“Generally, in public health we choose the least restrictive alternative,” said Craig M. Klugman. “You want to protect public health based on exact science, while protecting people’s liberty as much as possible.”
Klugman added that Malloy’s policy also raises the issue of whether family members of individuals quarantined at home must also be kept in quarantine.
As Breitbart News reported last week, a graduate student at Yale University was treated at Yale-New Haven Hospital for Ebola-like symptoms after recently returning from Liberia. The student’s lab tests were found to be negative.
Karen Peart, a spokesperson from the Yale Office of Public Affairs and Communications, said in an email statement to Breitbart News, “We were delighted to report that Yale-New Haven Hospital received a second confirmation from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the doctoral student did not have the Ebola virus.”
Haynes also told Breitbart News in an email that CDC does not release press statements when confirming negative lab tests.
“There have been several over the past month or so where a passenger presented with symptoms but it was determined that they weren’t potentially Ebola,” he said. “Often the state will announce but we will only release positive tests/cases.”