Ebola Update: More than 600 quarantined at home in NJ

Source: NJ.com Health

As home to one of the handful of international airports through which travelers from Ebola-stricken countries must enter the United States, New Jersey has screened more than a thousand passengers and quarantined more than 600 people at home.

In documents submitted to the Office of Legislative Services, the N.J. Department of Health shared some several numbers pertaining to the potential risk of Ebola:

  • Since implementation of a mandatory screening policy last October, 21 passengers have been sent to a hospital for evaluation of symptoms that were compatible with Ebola. All 21 turned out to be false alarms – chiefly flu or malaria, according to Department of Health commissioner Mary O’Dowd.
  • A total of 1,408 passengers arriving from Guinea, Sierra Leone or Liberia have been screened. Of those, 642 were monitored by the state for 21 days. All but three were in the low-risk category, meaning they were from the affected areas but had no immediate contact with Ebola patients.
  • Those 642 passengers who quarantined themselves in their homes were monitored by 62 local health departments in 17 counties.
  • Passengers who hadn’t intended on New Jersey as their final flight destination and therefore couldn’t be quarantined locally were provided with transportation out of state…

“To date, there have been no out-of-state travelers subject to quarantine in NJ that have required housing support,” the department stated in its answers to the Office of Legislative Services…

At the height of public concern about Ebola last fall, the state made arrangements to use seven duplexes at the former U.S. Army facility to house quarantined passengers who had nowhere else to go…To date, no one has been housed there…Yet the possibility of some of those passengers ending up at Fort Monmouth drew the ire of Sen. Jennifer Beck (R-Monmouth) (O’Dowd) called the Fort Monmouth facility a “state-provided sheltering option,” a phrase Beck disputed.

“To me, you’re ‘sheltering’ only because this individual may get sick over the next 21 days,” (Beck) said…Should someone develop symptoms, they’d have to be taken to one of the three hospitals designated to diagnose Ebola anyway…(I)t makes more sense for them to be hospitalized from the beginning of their 21-day isolation, even if those hospitals object.”

Noting that local governments and the business community are trying to draw investors to the property, Beck said it’s hardly a good marketing tool to have to say, ‘Oh, by the way, we also house potentially a group of Ebola survivors.'” (She later amended her comment to note she meant someone exposed to Ebola.)

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