New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says that despite facing criticism for his controversial decision to quarantine American nurse Kaci Hickox, even after she tested negative for Ebola, the state's policy on the virus "will not change."
"My first responsibility is to protect the public health and safety of the people of New Jersey, and I will not submit to any political pressure in doing anything less than I believe is necessary," Christie told TODAY's Matt Lauer in an exclusive live interview Tuesday.
New Jersey ordered Hickox into a mandatory quarantine after she came down with a fever upon her return from Ebola-stricken West Africa. After she later appeared symptom-free, she was released to her home in Maine, where she remains in home isolation.
Christie defended his state's actions, saying:
- He has the public's support: "The American public believes this is common sense and we’re not moving an inch. Our policy hasn’t changed and our policy will not change."
- His policy was not influenced by the upcoming midterm elections: "I'm not here to discuss political blame," he said, pointing out that governors from at least six other states have adopted measures similar to New Jersey. "The fact is, you’ve got more Democratic governors doing this than Republican governors. This is a non-partisan issue."
- The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has been slow to make necessary changes to its guidance: "We want stricter things than what they have been willing to (propose) and now they’re incrementally ... moving toward our position," he said. "This is because they don’t want to admit we’re right and they’re wrong."
- He acted in the best interest of his state: "Folks got infected in Texas because they were behind. We’re not going to have folks being infected in New Jersey and other states in this country."
TODAY.com writer Eun Kyung Kim on Twitter.