Obama Commission: Don’t Quarantine Ebola Workers

Forcing Ebola workers into quarantine as some states did last fall is both counterproductive and morally wrong, says a group of prominent academics selected by President Obama for his commission on bioethics.

A debate over mandatory quarantines ensued during the height of the Ebola outbreak, when New York and New Jersey announced that all healthcare workers who had contact with patients in West Africa must be isolated for 21 days, even if they had no symptoms of the disease.

A recommendation released Thursday by the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues reinforces the position taken by the Obama administration — that imposing quarantines on workers who appear otherwise healthy could discourage more from volunteering their services and isn’t necessary for public health.

“Workers were quarantined for 21 days, which meant they could not serve the purpose for which they are passionately and expertly prepared — which is saving lives, “said Chairman Amy Gutmann, president of the University of Pennsylvania.