Well, when you put it that way (note: the NYT has since changed the text without noting those changes)…
The Obama administration has been pushing the governors of New York and New Jersey to reverse their decision ordering all medical workers returning from West Africa who had contact with Ebola patients to be quarantined, an administration official said on Sunday.
But both governors, Andrew M. Cuomo of New York and Chris Christie of New Jersey, stood by their decision, saying that the federal guidelines did not go far enough.
Yes, yes, we are all shocked to hear that Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie are not entirely willing to do Barack Obama – and, by extension, the Democratic party – a favor by relaxing quarantine procedures in their respective states. Particularly since relaxing those procedures could put the citizens of both New York and New Jersey at terrible risk*. The interesting thing here is that Cuomo’s position is protecting Christie’s, and vice versa: each one can claim, thanks to the other, that their decision is free from political considerations. Which is of course absurd, but then Barack Obama’s position is even more tied into political considerations, so it all evens out in the wash.
None of this answers the question Should we have a quarantine? To that my answer is When it comes to medical personnel returning from treating Ebola cases? Yes, indeed. Which is why this passage from the same NYT article isn’t sitting well with me:
…the first person to be forced into isolation under the new protocols, Kaci Hickox, a nurse returning from Sierra Leone, planned to mount a legal challenge to the quarantine order. Despite having no symptoms, she has been kept under quarantine at a hospital in New Jersey, where she has been confined to a tent equipped with a portable toilet and no shower. On Sunday, she spoke to CNN about the way she has been treated, describing it as “inhumane.”
There have been enough stories of medical personnel coming down with Ebola to justify a quarantine, frankly. I respect the heck of anybody willing to go into West Africa and treat people suffering from a dangerously infectious disease that liquefies your insides. Doesn’t mean that I’m fine with not quarantining those people when they come back.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
PS: As this article was being written, Andrew Cuomo did a press conference in which he – well, let’s be honest about it; Cuomo was pressured by the Democratic party to loosen his state’s quarantine policy. Health care personnel will be allowed to self-isolate at home: regular travelers from exposed areas will be monitored twice-daily. That is… a gamble; Andrew Cuomo is essentially betting that a perfunctory quarantine will catch anybody who actually has the disease. The footnote below is now even more important; if Cuomo’s wrong, his career will be over. And, you know, people will die.
*No need to discuss the risk to either man’s future political career: if they reversed the quarantine conditions and people end up getting sick with Ebola, neither will actually have a career to risk.