- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 28, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie staunchly defended his state’s Ebola quarantine policy Tuesday and said it will not change, one day after he allowed a nurse to return to Maine because she was symptom-free for 24 hours.

“My first responsibility is to protect the public health and safety of the people of New Jersey, and I will not submit to any political pressure in doing anything less than I believe is necessary,” the Republican told NBC’s “Today.”

Kaci Hickox, 33, complained about her treatment at Newark Liberty International Airport and then quarantine in a tent adjacent to a Newark hospital, even though she tested negative for the deadly virus that has ravaged West Africa.

The nurse had worked with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and registered a fever at the New Jersey airport, but she said the instrument was faulty and she quickly returned to a normal temperature. People who do now show symptoms of Ebola are not considered contagious.

“She never had the fever,” her attorney, Norman Siegel, told CNN’s “New Day.”

But Mr. Christie said he followed a sensible policy to the letter — he wants people to quarantine at home, and Ms. Hickox no longer had a fever — and that other states are emulating his.

“The fact is, you’ve got more Democratic governors doing this than Republican governors. This is a nonpartisan issue,” he told NBC.

Medical experts at the federal level have questioned state policies that keep returning health workers behind closed doors — at home or otherwise. They worry that fewer people will volunteer on the front lines in West Africa if they need to tack on three weeks to their commitment when they return home.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a risk scale Monday to guide state officials in their response to returning health workers or others with potential exposure to Ebola. The federal guidelines do not go as far as restrictions put in place by more and more states.

Mr. Christie said he is on the right side of both science and public opinion, and the CDC has been slow to respond to the issue.

“Folks got infected in Texas because they were behind,” he said. “We’re not going to have folks being infected in New Jersey and other states in this country.”

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