Hassan Says State Will Take Action To Enforce 21-Day Ebola Quarantine

Oct 29, 2014

Credit Todd Bookman / NHPR

With a Maine nurse threatening not to comply with a state-mandated quarantine, New Hampshire Governor Maggie Hassan says officials here are prepared to take action should a similar situation occur.

Related: listen to NHPR's full interview with Dr. Jose Montero on quarantine enforcement here. See CDC Guidance for states here.

Hassan says the state has legal authority to require those who’ve had direct contact with Ebola patients in West Africa to stay home once they’ve returned.

“Our health commissioner is prepared to order a quarantine if that should be necessary. We’ll do what we need to do to protect the public health and safety, but this being New Hampshire we’re confident in our ability to get people to cooperate, too.”

The state announced this week a required 21-day home quarantine for New Hampshire residents returning from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierre Leone who’ve had contact with those infected.

Two Granite Staters working overseas to fight the virus – Brigadier General Peter Corey and epidemiologist Dr. Elizabeth Talbot – say they’ll comply, staying home and monitoring for illness.

Nurse Kaci Hickox returned home to Maine this week after being held in quarantine against her will in New Jersey.

She’s tested negative for the virus, and has given the state until Thursday to allow her to break a state order for her to stay home for three weeks.

The New Hampshire Civil Liberties union has raised concerns about constitutionality of the state's Ebola protocols.

"When a threat to public health becomes serious enough, New Hampshire law allows certain infringements on people's individual rights, but those infringements should be based on medical necessity, not fear or politics," the NHCLU said in a statement.

The organization filed a records request with Hassan's office and the state health department seeking details of the state's plans to enforce the measures.