Obama hits governors for 'hiding under the covers' from Ebola

President Barack Obama said states that are mandating quarantines for health workers returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa are "hiding under the covers."

Story highlights

  • President Barack Obama blasted governors who are mandating Ebola-related quarantines
  • He said those policies amount to "hiding under the covers" rather than leading
  • Obama said he's putting "on notice" those governors, without citing them by name
President Barack Obama took more thinly-veiled shots at governors like New Jersey's Chris Christie on Wednesday, saying the mandatory quarantine policies some states have imposed amount to "hiding under the covers" from Ebola.
After visiting a group of health care workers who'd recently returned from the epicenter of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- some still within the virus's 21-day incubation period, but showing no symptoms -- Obama said policies like states requiring three-week quarantines of doctors and nurses who treated Ebola patients could harm U.S. efforts to stop its spread.
He didn't mention Christie, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo or others by name, but said he's "putting those on notice who think that we should hide from these problems."
"When I hear people talking about American leadership and then promoting policies that would avoid leadership and have us running the opposite direction and hiding under the covers, it makes me a little frustrated," Obama said.
His remarks Wednesday echoed similar ones Tuesday. They come days after Christie and Cuomo, faced with the first potential Ebola cases in their states, said they were imposing mandatory quarantines for health workers who'd treated infected patients upon their return to the United States.
California Gov. Jerry Brown's top health official announced a similar rule there on Wednesday, though the state hasn't yet had an Ebola case.
The Army has also announced quarantines for soldiers returning from West Africa, with Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel expected to soon announce whether that policy will apply to the full mulitary.
Obama's event Wednesday featured Kent Brantly, an American doctor who was infected with Ebola while working in West Africa and is now free of the virus. Introducing Obama, Brantly said more health care workers are badly needed there.
Obama said doctors and nurses volunteering to work in the region demonstrates "American exceptionalism."
"When they come home, they deserve to be treated properly," he said. "They deserve to be treated like the heroes that they are."