Connecticut details quarantine policies

By DAVE COLLINS
Associated Press

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ Connecticut officials on Monday joined their counterparts in other states in defending and detailing quarantine powers they’ve enacted as a precaution against Ebola, amid questions by civil liberties advocates and local officials as eight people remained confined in the state.

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy and state Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen announced that all people coming to Connecticut after traveling to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea in West Africa will at least face 21 days of mandatory monitoring, which involves state officials contacting them daily to see if they have symptoms like a fever.

Any traveler from West Africa without symptoms but deemed to have been potentially exposed to Ebola will be quarantined for 21 days, most likely at their homes, while people with symptoms will be isolated at hospitals, according to the state’s policies. Malloy gave Mullen quarantine powers earlier this month.

The announcement on Monday came amid concerns by the state chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and different interpretations of state policy by local officials. The ACLU said it was concerned about people being quarantined without reasonable cause and based only on their travel histories, in violation of their rights.

The announcement also came as governors in other states including New York and New Jersey defended their quarantine policies as necessary precautions. On Monday, a nurse who worked with Ebola patients in West Africa and was quarantined in New Jersey during the weekend was released after testing negative for Ebola and criticized that state’s policy.

Eight people in Connecticut without any symptoms currently are under 21-day quarantine orders by Mullen, including six family members confined to a West Haven home under 24-hour police surveillance who recently flew from West Africa to John F. Kennedy Airport in New York.

State officials said they rescinded a quarantine order for a ninth person in Darien on Monday after reviewing his travel history.

The remaining people in quarantine are two Yale University doctoral students who recently helped Liberian officials set up a computer system to track Ebola but did not have contact with Ebola patients, Yale officials said. One student developed a fever and was isolated at a hospital two weeks ago, but tested negative for Ebola.

State officials have declined to say whether any of the people quarantined were at risk of exposure to Ebola while in West Africa.

West Haven Mayor Edward O’Brien said earlier Monday that he believed state policy called for everyone traveling from West Africa to be quarantined. Darien First Selectman Jayme Stevenson said she thought state protocol required quarantines only for people who may have been exposed to Ebola.

Malloy said the state’s policy is more stringent than recommended restrictions by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“The protocols outlined here will ensure that we have the ability to take preventative action that will protect public health, utilizing the best information we have and the expertise of our public health officials,” Malloy said in a statement.

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