Officials in New York, New Jersey and Indiana have announced mandatory quarantines for travelers returning from West African countries currently affected by the Ebola outbreak who have the highest risk of contracting the virus, including health care workers.
Dr. Rick Sacra, the third American to become infected with Ebola in Liberia who has been virus-free since Sept. 26, joined TODAY's Erica Hill to discuss the new mandatory quarantines for those with a "high risk" returning from West Africa, and why they might actually harm the global fight against Ebola.
- On the effectiveness, and excessiveness, of mandatory quarantines for health care workers who worked with Ebola: "I'm sure it's effective, but it's more than what's needed medically," he said. "We know that individuals who do not have symptoms cannot transmit the virus."
- On why mandatory quarantines could deter doctors from treating Ebola: "I think people like Dr. [Craig] Spencer, we should view them the same way we view firefighters and police officers — people who are putting themselves in harm's way to make a difference," he said, referring to the New York City Ebola patient who is the fourth person to be diagnosed in the U.S. "And then when you welcome that kind of person back from their service with a 21-day quarantine, that kind of puts a big burden on them. It's going to reduce the ability of our nation to fully take part in the global response to Ebola."
- On why it's so important for the U.S. to fight Ebola in West Africa: "There's a huge need for manpower; for personnel," Sacra said, pointing out that a nation like Liberia has only about 50 doctors, which is about one doctor for every 90,000 citizens. "There's a huge need for volunteers from a resource-rich place like the U.S. and Europe and other places in the world who have those resources."
- On New York City Ebola patient, Dr. Spencer: "He reported the moment he had symptoms, he followed every protocol that was necessary. And by getting into care early, he's giving himself the best chance of a cure and of doing well."
While Sacra said he never met Dr. Spencer, given that the two doctors worked in different Ebola-affected countries, "I wish him the best," Sacra said. "He’s done everything right and frankly should be congratulated