Associated PressBy Rebecca Flannery
Texas won’t be joining the handful of states announced to have controversial 21-day quarantines for citizens traveling back from West Africa.
Maine, New York, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey, Illinois and most recently, California, have set quarantine procedures in place, varying in the severity of quarantine practices.
Other states like Pennsylvania and Georgia have also implemented procedures for people returning from West Africa. Altogether, the 10 states are responsible for receiving 70 percent of incoming travelers, according to a press release from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Christine Mann, spokesperson for the Texas Department of State Health Services said Texas doesn’t have a mandatory policy for quarantines.
“Patients will be evaluated on a case to case basis,” Mann said. “If they are at a high risk, they’re asked to stay at home where health officials will visit to monitor them.”
Mann said public health officials would check on the suspected case twice daily for symptoms within the 21-day incubation period. Otherwise, patients would be asked to monitor themselves during that time for fever or other Ebola-related symptoms.
“If someone has come in contact with Ebola, symptoms would appear within the 2 to 21 day span,” Mann said. Ebola-related deaths reached 13,676 cases in West Africa on Oct. 29, according to the CDC. In the United States, four people have died since the outbreak.
Dr. Jerold Waltman, professor of political science, said while some may think quarantines are unconstitutional, states have the right to implement them.
“The states have what’s called a ‘police power,’” Waltman said. “This power could include the power to quarantine people to protect public safety and regulate health safety and welfare.”
Kelly Craine, public information officer for the Health Department of McLennan County said so far, people quarantined in Texas have been asked to do so voluntarily.
“In McLennan County, we would work with Department of State Health Services to determine the risk level of someone who may have come in contact with those affected,” Craine said.
In California, the quarantine is set on a case-by- case basis, unlike Maine, New York and New Jersey where there is a broad effort to quarantine all travelers from affected countries. Carlos Villatoro, media correspondent for the California Department of Public Health said he hasn’t heard any backlash over the state’s decision on quarantines. Other procedures in place by the CDC include providing self-monitoring kits to passengers coming off planes from West Africa, as well as active post-arrival monitoring.
“Active post-arrival monitoring is an approach in which state and local health officials maintain daily contact with all travelers from the three affected countries for the entire 21 days following their last possible date of exposure to Ebola virus,” according to a press release from the CDC.