New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie responded to critics of his state's Ebola policies
Christie referred to his actions as "common sense" and being "careful"
The Republican governor is considering a 2016 presidential bid
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie tried to stamp out criticism Tuesday of his policy to quarantine health care workers returning from Ebola hot zones, describing his rule as “common sense” and vowing that he won’t move “an inch” on the standards his state has set forth.
He also tried to address critics on the other end of the spectrum who say his decision to let a health care worker go on Monday was a sign of him caving in to political pressure.
“We’re trying to be careful here,” Christie said on NBC’s “Today,” referring to his state’s policy. “This is common sense, and … the American public believes it is common sense. And we’re not moving an inch. Our policy hasn’t changed, and our policy will not change.”
Christie, a Republican who’s eying a 2016 presidential bid, finds himself at the center of a political debate between those who say government is overreacting to the Ebola threat and those who argue it’s not doing enough.
At issue is New Jersey’s policy to quarantine recently returned health care workers who’ve been in contact with Ebola patients in West Africa. One such worker, a nurse who came back from Sierra Leone last week, protested her quarantine in New Jersey, saying it violated her rights.
While she argued she was never symptomatic, the state said she ran a fever and kept her isolated over the weekend. The Obama administration and some medical experts took issue with the policy, which was also enacted in New York, and Christie became the target of widespread criticism.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health, said on NBC the policy was “draconian” and not rooted in science. Others, including Fauci, expressed concern the policy would become a disincentive for people wanting to go and help combat the problem in West Africa, fearing they’d be quarantined as soon as they returned to the United States.
Christie said he applauds those volunteers, but disagreed that New Jersey’s policy was too much to ask, calling his critics “hyperbolic.”
“When they’re in direct contact with people actively with the Ebola virus, asking them to quarantine at home for 21 days – unless they’re symptomatic – I don’t think that’s ‘draconian’, and I think Dr. Fauci is responding, unfortunately, as are many of the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], in a really hyperbolic way because they’ve been wrong before, now they’re incrementally taking steps towards the policy that we’ve put into effect in New Jersey.”
He also hit back that his efforts were part of a political ploy one week before the midterm elections. He said six other states have adopted similar policies, including Democratic governors in Maryland and Virginia.