(Hartford, CT) - In a letter to newly appointed federal Ebola Czar Ron Klain, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) Saturday urged federal health leaders to adopt Connecticut's more stringent standards for quarantine and isolation.
President Obama has asked Klain, former chief of staff to both Vice Presidents Biden and Gore, to serve as the federal government's Ebola response coordinator.
“I am urging the new Ebola czar to take the lead in addressing apprehension and preventing the spread of this horrific disease. The Connecticut protocols are a practical and promising approach to this very complex and difficult challenge. Federal authorities should adopt these protocols as a next step in dealing with this paramount public health crisis,” Blumenthal said.
Earlier this month, Governor Malloy preemptively declared a Public Health Emergency regarding Ebola to authorize the Commissioner of the Department of Public Health to take additional steps should a potential case be identified.
Governor Malloy announced additional guidelines last week—new precautions to ensure that first responders and the state's healthcare system are best prepared to deal with a potential case, should another be identified. Blumenthal is calling on federal agencies to adopt or recommend the same guidance at airports that are now performing enhanced screening of passengers for Ebola.
Under the new Connecticut guidance, any person who becomes sick with Ebola-like symptoms and either:
· traveled to Liberia, Sierra Leone, or Guinea in the past 21 days, or
· has had contact with a person who has Ebola shall be taken to the hospital for evaluation and be placed in isolation, meaning separated from other patients.
Additionally, anyone who is not sick, but has traveled to affected areas or been in contact with an infected individual at any time, is required to stay at home, quarantined for 21 days, and take his or her temperature twice a day. He or she will be contacted by a public health worker twice daily by phone under the state’s quarantine policy. In the case someone under quarantine develops symptoms he or she will be sent to the hospital for evaluation and placed in isolation.
Full text of the letter follows.
Dear Mr. Klain:
Congratulations on your recent appointment by President Obama to oversee the federal government's response to the Ebola virus outbreak. As we discussed earlier today, I would like to draw your attention to policies recently put in place in Connecticut that I strongly believe would benefit the entire country if adopted federally.
After a Yale University graduate student was hospitalized in New Haven with Ebola-like symptoms, Governor Dannel Malloy and Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen demonstrated remarkable leadership in issuing guidance to preemptively protect the public. Although the student has fortunately tested negative for the virus, Connecticut's precautions provide an excellent model for other states and the federal government in crafting their own responses.
Under the Connecticut guidance, all travelers from countries affected by the outbreak, and all people who have had contact with a person who has Ebola, are subject to a 21 day quarantine in their homes. During this time, they are expected twice daily to take their temperature and to speak with a public health worker to ensure that they are not exhibiting symptoms that warrant additional care. Connecticut is also requiring that anyone who has potentially been exposed to the virus and is exhibiting Ebola-like symptoms be placed into isolation at a hospital. I urge national health leaders to follow Connecticut’s lead and adopt similarly stringent standards, particularly at points of entry like ports and airports. Although these rules may seem aggressive, it is essential that our national leaders take appropriate action to address the ongoing threat of Ebola in the country.
I thank you for your continued service to the United States, and I look forward to working with you to ensure that our health system has the resources it needs to treat patients at risk and appropriately protect the public health.