President Barack Obama on Wednesday touted the heroism of health care workers fighting Ebola abroad, further emphasizing the disagreement between himself and other politicians who want the workers quarantined when they come home.
“All of them have signed up to leave their homes and their loved ones and head straight into the heart of the Ebola epidemic,” Obama said during a White House event honoring American doctors and nurses returning from West Africa, where the Ebola virus has killed nearly 5,000 people.
“We need to call them what they are, which is American heroes,” he said, surrounded by doctors and nurses in the White House East Room. “They deserve our gratitude and they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect.”
Some of the health care workers who shared the podium with Obama were within the 21-day monitoring period recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people potentially exposed to Ebola, a White House official told The Huffington Post. The official added that the workers have followed CDC guidance and that none were symptomatic.
Obama, who has repeatedly sought to show he is unafraid of catching the virus from health workers officials have said shouldn’t be contagious, shook hands with each of the workers after his speech.
Experts say Ebola is only transmissible through bodily fluids and that people aren’t contagious unless they’re showing symptoms, which include fever and vomiting. Nevertheless, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and other governors around the country have called for a quarantine on anyone returning from Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, the three countries where the virus is raging. Obama and public health experts have said that travel restrictions could prevent aid workers from going to the Ebola-stricken countries to help. The president of the World Bank has said the region needs at least 5,000 more such workers.
Per Christie’s quarantine order, New Jersey on Friday confined nurse Kaci Hickox, who had just returned from a Doctors Without Borders mission in Sierra Leone, to a hospital tent for three days. Hickox was released after she threatened to sue, and both New Jersey and New York announced that other returning health care workers would be allowed to serve out their quarantines in their own homes.
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SOURCE: The Huffington Post