100 N.J. residents with no Ebola symptoms being monitored at home, state says
TRENTON — There are “approximately 100” people in New Jersey who are under “active monitoring” for Ebola, although no one has shown symptoms of having contracted the potentially deadly virus, a spokeswoman for the state Health Department confirmed tonight.
Newark Liberty International Airport is one of five airports in the nation accepting travelers from the three West African countries hardest hit by the virus. Those countries are Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia. John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York is the second closest airport.
Health Department spokeswoman Dawn Thomas said none of the New Jerseyans are hospitalized, and no one appears sick. They are not medical professionals.
“These are individuals who had no direct contact to Ebola patients. These are asymptomatic individuals,” Thomas wrote in an email. “They are at home.”
No one has been quarantined, she added.
Local health officials are doing the actual monitoring, which includes daily contact, in person or by phone, “to record temperature checks done by the person twice a day, and to ensure no symptoms have developed,” Thomas wrote.
The state did not identify the communities in which these 100 travelers live.
Gov. Chris Christie announced that people returning from these African nations who had contact with Ebola victims would be placed under a 21-day quarantine, no matter how healthy they appeared.
Maine nurse Kaci Hickox, returning from Sierra Leone, was the first medical professional subjected to the policy when she flew into Newark Airport on Oct. 24, and was confined to a tent at University Hospital in Newark against her will. There is a dispute over whether she exhibited any symptoms while in New Jersey; the Christie administration said she had a fever, while Hickox claimed a less reliable forehead thermometer falsely registered a temperature, but that when an oral thermometer was used, her temperature was normal. She was held at the hospital until Monday afternoon.
Backed by many public health professionals and civil libertarians, Hickox said her treatment in New Jersey violated her rights because Ebola is not contagious unless someone is experiencing symptoms. Christie said he was not willing to risk spreading the disease.
Hickox got the same treatment when she arrived in northern Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage and his administration were preparing to seek a court order keeping her confined at home until Nov. 10, the end of the 21-day incubation period.
It is not clear whether the state took any action. Calls and emails to the Maine governor’s office and health department went unreturned, as were calls to Hickox’s attorneys.
This morning, Hickox and her boyfriend went on a bike ride, while being monitored by law enforcement officials, according to news reports.
“There is no legal action against me so I am free to go on a bike ride,” Hickox told reporters.
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