NY, NJ Govs Issue Mandatory Quarantine for Travelers Who Treated Ebola Patients

Members of the Brooklyn Borough President's office hand out fliers detailing the risks of Ebola outside The Gutter bowling alley, Friday, Oct. 24, 2014, in Brooklyn's Williamsburg neighborhood, in New York. Craig Spencer, a Doctors Without Borders physician who recently returned to the city after treating Ebola patients in West Africa, tested positive for the disease and is being treated at Bellevue Hospital in Manhattan. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)AP

By Chelsea Rice, Lara Salahi and Megan Allison

Boston.com Staff
October 24, 2014 5:57 PM

5:50 p.m. ET: What will you do for 21 days, alone? New York and New Jersey governors announced Friday afternoon that all travelers entering the United States at JFK and Newark Liberty International Airports who have had direct contact with patients afflicted with Ebola in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea will be quarantined for 21 days.

“Since taking office, I have erred on the side of caution when it comes to the safety and protection of New Yorkers, and the current situation regarding Ebola will be no different,” said NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in a statement. “The steps New York and New Jersey are taking today will strengthen our safeguards to protect our residents against this disease and help ensure those that may be infected by Ebola are treated with the highest precautions.”

“I have been clear that we will take whatever steps are necessary to protect the public health of the people of New Jersey which is exactly what these joint efforts with Governor Cuomo will do with additional screening and heightened standards for quarantine,” said New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “By demanding these enhance measures, we are ensuring that any suspected cases are identified quickly and effectively, and that proper safeguards are executed.”

The New York Times reported that White House officials are concerned that this announcement, which was not done in consultation with public health officials, will deter the effort to send more people to help with the outbreak in West Africa.

“These kind of policy decisions are going to be driven by science, and by the best advice of our medical experts, and by our scientists that have four decades of experience in dealing with Ebola outbreaks in West Africa,” said Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, to reporters on Friday.

5:30 p.m. ET: Get your flu shot and stop freaking out, NYC.City officials said that all officials followed the exact protocols in handling Dr. Craig Spencer as soon as he was considered to be at risk for Ebola on Thursday. His fiance is being quarantined, and the medical detectives are determining all possible contacts that may need to be in quarantine. New York City’s mayor emphasized that casual contact cannot lead to this disease.

“There is no cause for everyday New Yorkers to be alarmed,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio in a press conference Friday afternoon. “Only through direct and intimate contact can that disease be transmitted. New Yorkers who have not been exposed to an infected person’s bodily fluids are not at risk, and there’s no reason for New Yorkers to change their routine in any way.”
The mayor also said it will help address this public health situation if every New Yorker gets his or her flu shot.
Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health, said that health officials visited and cleared the Brooklyn bowling alley where Dr. Spencer visited the night before he began to develop symptoms.
Health officials emphasized that Thursday morning was the first time Dr. Spencer had any noticeable temperature change at 100.3. Dr. Bassett said she had reviewed the patient’s self-monitoring temperature log and there was no increase in temperature until Thursday morning. Spencer took his temperature on Wednesday night.
5:11 p.m. ET: Sad news in Mali. A toddler infected with Ebola died while being treated at a hospital in Kayes, Mali on Friday, according to the Associated Press.
This is the first Ebola case in Mali, but the region is preparing for many more. The toddler was bleeding from her nose while traveling on a bus from Guinea, where there is a larger outbreak. The 2-year-old came in to close contact with 43 people who are currently being monitored and held in isolation. The child was diagnosed with Ebola on Thursday.
3:00 p.m. ET: Where he went, what he did, where he ate.
The New York City Department of Health released the timeline of Dr. Craig Spencer’s past 10 days in the United States.
The New York City Department of Health released the timeline of Dr. Craig Spencer’s past 10 days in the United States.The New York City Department of Health
1:29 p.m. ET: Is a cure on the way?
The World Health Organization announced on Friday that by 2015 two different experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for distribution to up to 1 million people. And by March, five more vaccines will undergo testing. There is no guarantee that these experimental drugs will work. But if early tests prove to be safe and successful, the WHO hopes that it will create an immune response to Ebola.
“As we accelerate in a matter of weeks a process that typically takes years, we are ensuring that safety remains the top priority, with production speed and capacity a close second,“ said Marie-Paule Kieny, WHO Assistant Director-General of Health Systems and Innovation, in a prepared statement.
The two trial vaccines were developed by GlaxoSmithKline in the US with the National Institute of Health, and by the Canadian Public Health Agency licensed to US Company New Link Genetics. These vaccines are currently undergoing trials in the United States, United Kingdom, and Mali.
12:42 p.m. ET: President Obama meets with Ebola-free nurse Nina Pham.
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: U.S. President Barack Obama gives a hug to Dallas nurse Nina Pham in the Oval Office of the White House October 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. Pham, a nurse who was infected with Ebola from treating patient Thomas Eric Duncan at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas and was first diagnosed on October 12, was declared free of the virus on Friday. (Photo by Olivier Douliery-Pool/Getty Images)Getty Images
President Obama meets with Nina Pham, the Texas Health Dallas nurse who recovered from Ebola, this afternoon.
12:12 p.m. ET: Second nurse with Ebola free of virus. Amber Vinson, one of two nurses who contracted Ebola, is free of the virus, Emory University announced Friday. Unlike Texas Health nurse Nina Pham, Vinson will remain hospitalized for “continued supportive care,” the hospital said in a public statement.
10:55 a.m. ET: Dallas nurse declared Ebola-free. Nina Pham, the Texas Health Dallas nurse who contracted Ebola after caring for the first US patient with the disease, has been successfully treated, according to the National Institutes of Health. Pham was sent to the NIH’s Special Clinical Studies Unit in Maryland for treatment. She will be discharged from the center today and head back to Dallas.
Nurses in the emergency department at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas watch Nina Pham being released from the hospital.Texas Health Resources
“Her colleagues and friends eagerly look forward to welcoming her back,” Texas Health Resources CEO Barclay Berdan said in a public statement. “Her courage and spirit, first in treating a critically ill Ebola patient and then in winning her own battle against the disease, has truly inspired all of us.”
Unlike the other US patients who tested positive for Ebola, Pham did not receive experimental medication, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease said in a media briefing Friday.
9:30 a.m. ET: House holds hearing. The House Oversight and Government Reform committee held a hearing on the federal government’s response to the Ebola crisis.
5:17 a.m. ET: Surface wipes that fight Ebola? Researchers at U.S. Army Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center are testing a disinfectant that can kill the Ebola virus on surfaces. The produce is already used in West Africa and in some hospitals in the US, included the Nebraska Medical Center, where Worcester doctor and Ebola survivor Rick Sacra was treated.
Last night: 10:00 p.m. ET: New York City says it’s prepared.
In a press conference Thursday night, New York state and city officials outlined plans to calm fears after physician Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive for the Ebola virus. He had returned to the United States from treating Ebola patients in Guinea 10 days ago.
“We are prepared to quarantine contacts as necessary. Medical detectives are at work putting together pieces of the timeline,” New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a press conference Thursday evening.
“Let’s be clear. Ebola is very hard to contract being on a subway car or being near someone who has the disease,” Blasio said.
“We are as ready as one could be for this circumstance,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a press conference. “What happened in Dallas was actually the exact opposite....We had the advantage of learning from the Dallas experience.”
Gov. Cuomo also said this instance “is lucky” because the Ebola patient, Craig Spencer, was a doctor with experience treating people with Ebola and understands how the disease works. Cuomo also said that there are four suspected people who had contact with Dr. Spencer and may be at risk for the disease. The health officials have been in touch with each of these individuals.
The governor emphasized that the city has been preparing for weeks and “the proof is in the pudding.”
Dr. Spencer completed work in Guinea on Oct. 12 and arrived in the United States on Oct. 17, said Dr. Mary Travis Bassett, commissioner of the New York City Department of Health. Spencer was well throughout his journey and arrived in the United States with no symptoms. Bassett said Spencer took his own temperature twice a day.
On Oct. 21, Dr. Spencer “began to feel somewhat tired” but Bassett emphasized that the first actual symptoms began Thursday between 10 and 11 a.m. this morning with a fever and some other symptoms. He was brought to Bellevue Hospital as a person considered at high risk for Ebola.
The day before his symptoms began, Spencer went on a three-mile jog and took the New York Subway A train, No. 1 train, and L train. Spencer also went bowling in Williamsburg and was feeling well at that time except for his feeling of fatigue, according to Dr. Bassett. The bowling alley is closed waiting for inspection by public health officials. Spencer had close contact with his fiance and three friends who are all healthy and being quarantined. One of the contacts is in the hospital. Bassett said Spencer also took an Uber car home, but he had no physical contact with the driver and the driver isn’t considered to be at risk.
8:30 p.m. ET: Confirmed case in NYC. New York public health officials confirmed Thursday evening that the physician, Craig Spencer, who was admitted to Bellevue Hospital in New York City for Ebola-like symptoms Thursday afternoon, has tested positive for the virus. Spencer returned to New York City 10 days ago from working with Doctors Without Borders treating patients in Guinea. City officials spent the afternoon contact tracing, a process of tracking back every person Spencer may have exposed to the virus.
The New York Times reported that Dr. Spencer traveled from Manhattan to Brooklyn on the subway Wednesday evening to visit a bowling alley and took a taxi home. He was self-monitoring according to Doctors Without Borders, and reported a temperature of 103 degrees Thursday morning. Health officials are urging that Ebola is not contagious unless the person is displaying symptoms such as a fever, headache, or abdominal pain.
“As a further precaution, beginning today, the Health Department’s team of disease detectives immediately began to actively trace all of the patient’s contacts to identify anyone who may be at potential risk,” New York Health Commissioner Mary T. Bassett said in a statement about the suspected Ebola case Thursday afternoon. “The Health Department staff has established protocols to identify, notify, and, if necessary, quarantine any contacts of Ebola cases.”
Ashoka Mukpo, the Rhode Island cameraman who returned home this week after recovering from the virus, tweeted the following in light of the news about Dr. Spencer: