Florida

Gov. Rick Scott orders mandatory Ebola monitoring of travelers from West Africa

Gov. Rick Scott announced an executive order Saturday afternoon mandating that all people returning from Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone take part in twice-daily health evaluations for 21 days.

Florida Department of Health officials have already identified four individuals who arrived in Florida following trips to one of the Ebola-affected countries. There are no confirmed cases of Ebola in Florida.

“We are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already — and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area — to take part in … health evaluations with DOH personnel,” said a a statement released by the governor’s office. “We are glad we do not have a case of Ebola in Florida, but we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we never do.”

Scott blamed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for not providing risk classification information for travelers arriving in the U.S.

It’s not clear how Florida health officials will enforce the governor’s order.

The governors of New York, New Jersey and Illinois recently announced mandatory 21-day quarantines for arriving travelers who had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa.

Scott’s order impacts all persons traveling from Ebola-affected countries.

In Florida, individuals who are deemed high-risk following evaluations by Health Department officials will be placed in quarantine.

The details of how quarantines will be handled drew sharp criticism from humanitarian organization Doctors Without Borders, while infectious disease experts said many of the logistics about enforcement are likely still up in the air.

Doctors Without Borders executive director Sophie Delaunay complained about the “notable lack of clarity” from state officials about the quarantine policies.

“We are attempting to clarify the details of the protocols with each state’s departments of health to gain a full understanding of their requirements and implications,” she said in a statement.

The quarantine measures in New York were first announced after a local physician working for Doctors Without Borders returned from Guinea and was admitted to Manhattan’s Bellevue Medical Center earlier this week to be treated for Ebola.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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