- Associated Press - Thursday, October 30, 2014

NEW YORK (AP) - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a plan Thursday to encourage health care professionals to travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients by guaranteeing that they won’t lose their jobs or benefits while they are overseas.

De Blasio said it’s incumbent on New York to play “a lead role in recruiting and supporting medical professionals” because the city and state are home to so many top-rated hospitals and medical schools.

The initiative is modeled on benefits provided to military reservists.

Under the program, the city and state would work to ensure that health care workers “who selflessly travel to West Africa to treat Ebola patients would have their pay, health care, and employment statuses continue seamlessly when they get back,” the two officials said.

The state will reimburse health workers and their employers for any quarantine time that is required when the workers return to New York, they said.

Cuomo and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced a mandatory 21-day quarantine last week for travelers who have come in close contact with Ebola patients. They issued the mandates after Dr. Craig Spencer, a Harlem resident, tested positive after returning home from treating Ebola patients in Guinea, one of three West African countries that have been ravaged by the virus.

De Blasio said Thursday that Spencer remains in serious but stable condition at Bellevue Hospital Center.

A total of 117 people were being actively monitored for Ebola in New York City as of Thursday morning, City Hall spokeswoman Marti Adams said.

In addition to travelers from the Ebola-affected countries, the list includes hospital staffers who have taken care of Spencer, paramedics who brought him to Bellevue and lab workers who conducted his blood test.

Spencer’s fiancee and two friends who had socialized with the couple are in quarantine.

City officials said none of the individuals being monitored is showing any symptoms of Ebola.

A nurse who was involuntarily quarantined last week after arriving at the Newark airport in New Jersey upon her return from West Africa has been allowed to return to her home in Maine. She is under voluntary quarantine in Maine but has insisted she is symptom free and poses no threat to anyone. She has ventured outside her home and took a long bike ride Thursday.

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Associated Press writer Karen Matthews contributed to this report.

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