In a radio interview on Sunday morning, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York said that it was important to be able to compel people to monitor themselves under the force of law.“If you had someone who didn’t want to cooperate, you can enforce it legally, there’s no doubt about that,” he said on Radio 103.9, adding that it was “highly unlikely” that a health care worker returning from the affected West Africa nations would object.
Highly unlikely that a health care worker returning from West Africa won't want to cooperate with the mandatory quarantine?
The first case - the nurse currently being detained by Governor Chris Christie in New Jersey - doesn't want to cooperate with it.
You can bet there will be somebody in New York who will feel the same way.
What will Cuomo do then?
ORIGINAL POST: Andrew Cuomo and Chris Christie talked tough during their Friday press conference when they announced a mandatory quarantine for anybody coming through either JFK or Newark airports who had worked with or had contact with Ebola patients.
As soon as they made the announcement, skeptics of the plan (including myself) began asking, "Where do they get the authority to detain people at the airport? How will they force people without symptoms into a quarantine if they don't want to be quarantined?"
Another criticism of the plan was the lack of clarity and details - just where would they keep the people who had been caught up in the Cuomo/Christie mandatory quarantine?
I blogged on Friday that it seemed like Christie and Cuomo had made their "tough new protocol" announcement well before they actually had the plan in place to carry that protocol out.
Today it sounds like that's exactly what happened.
The Daily News reports this morning Governor Cuomo has admitted he has no idea how the mandatory quarantine will be carried out or enforced:
Gov. Cuomo acknowledged his tough quarantine policy for health-care workers returning from West Africa was somewhat toothless and possibly unenforceable.
“Could you have a hostile person who doesn’t want to be quarantined?” the governor asked Saturday during a campaign swing through Queens. “I suppose you could. But that hasn’t been the case yet.”
The governor said officials had never considered whether people refusing to go along with the order could face prosecution or arrest.
“It’s nothing that we’ve discussed, no,” he said.
Pressed on where the passengers would spend their 21-day quarantine, Cuomo made it sound almost voluntary.
“Some people could be quarantined in a hospital if they wanted to be,” he suggested.
Perhaps Cuomo has learned a lesson from what's happening in Chris Christie's New Jersey.
A nurse who had worked with Ebola patients in West Africa was detained at Newark Airport and put into a mandatory quarantine at Newark University Hospital even though she says she has exhibited no symptoms of the Ebola virus.
The nurse wrote an article for the Dallas Morning News in which she said the mandatory quarantine protocol was characterized by fear and disorganization, that New Jersey officials had no idea what they were doing.
Governor Christie, politicking in Iowa, falsely claimed on Saturday that the nurse was ill when he was called to defend his order to quarantine her.
Christie, under attack over the illegal detention and subject to legal action by the nurse, has not backed down - she is still under mandatory detention in Newark.
But Cuomo now seems to be saying that he won't do the same in New York if a person comes through JFK who doesn't want to be quarantined.
There appears to be daylight between Cuomo and Christie on Sunday where there was none on Friday.
As soon as Cuomo and Christie announced their mandatory policy on Friday, I thought they were playing politics with the Ebola crisis - particularly because Cuomo had taken pains on Thursday night to tamp down fears over Ebola in NYC.
With Cuomo now admitting his mandatory quarantine will be toothless and unenforceable in New York, it becomes quite clear that was the case.
Is there anything more despicable than politicians playing electoral politics with a public health crisis?
Are there any politicians in this country more despicable than Chris Christie or Andrew Cuomo?
These two clowns - who can't get the PATH trains to run well, btw - tried to ride the wave of fear and anxiety many are feeling over Ebola by putting in place an ill-conceived, ill-thought out mandatory quarantine plan.