DHHS Commissioner Clarifies Maine CDC Ebola Protocols
The Commissioner for the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, Mary Mayhew, met with the media on Tuesday evening to clarify the state's Ebola protocols. It included an explanation of the term 'in-house quarantine.'
Mayhew began by commending all individuals who are offering medical aid to the Ebola-affected regions of West Africa. The statement then went on to discuss the very real risk posed by those healthcare workers returning to the United States.
She quickly reviewed the protocols put in place by the Maine CDC to deal with any individual who has visited one of these regions. As was explained in a press release that came out Monday, requirements for anyone who has not come in direct contact with an infected patient will receive daily check-ins from the state epidemiologist to discuss body temperature and possible symptoms for 21 days from the date of their last exposure to the virus.
The requirements for an individual who has had direct contact with infected patients are much more stringent, as was explained in the earlier press release. Mayhew reiterated this includes voluntary, in-home quarantine for a period of 21 days. She then explained what that entails.
"I want to be sure everyone understands what quarantine means in this case," Mayhew said. "Stating it plainly, what we are asking for is that individuals who had direct contact with Ebola patients stay in their home and avoid public contact until the 21 days for potential incubation has passed."
"We acknowledge that this protocol may go slightly beyond the federal guidelines, although the recent changes are very much more in line with Maine’s approach," Mayhew continued. "We have made the determination that out of an abundance of caution, this is a reasonable, common-sense approach to remove additional risk and guard against a public health crisis in Maine."
"If an individual who came in direct contact with Ebola patients has returned to Maine and is not willing to avoid public contact and stay in their home voluntarily during the period they are at some risk, we will take additional measures and pursue appropriate authority to ensure they make no public contact."
"Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to have to legally enforce an in-home quarantine. We are confident that the selfless health workers, who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country, will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect the residents of their own country. However, we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers."
"For any individual who must stay at home for a period of time for this reason," Mayhew continued, "we will do all that we can to make sure that the person has everything necessary to be comfortable and receive the care that is needed."
"I want to state again that we recognize the significant and brave contributions that are being made by healthcare workers each day, as they travel to West Africa and other regions of the world to provide critical care to those affected by disease. We are proud of our healthcare providers that continue to answer the call and are always ready to help others."
Mayhew concluded her statement by encouraging everyone to visit the Maine CDC's new Ebola website.