Illinois Governor Quinn Signs Mandatory Quarantine Order for People with Recent History of Direct Contact with Ebola Victims

People who arrive in Illinois after having direct contact with a person infected with the Ebola virus in the three African countries of Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone will be required to undergo a mandatory 21-day quarantine, according to an order signed by Gov. Pat Quinn.

The order, which was signed Friday, affects “high-risk” individuals who have come in contact with patients in Liberia, Guinea or Sierra Leone, the three nations hardest hit by the disease, and where over 4800 people have died from Ebola infections. During the first week of October there were about 4,000 deaths. The mandatory order from the governor’s office will be implemented by local health departments throughout Illinois.

The order also includes control of medical personnel who have treated people infected with the Ebola virus. Previously, voluntary compliance with isolation, even among medical professionals has not met the guidelines set by Ebola experts.

“This protective measure is too important to be voluntary,” Quinn said in a statement. “While we have no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in Illinois, we will continue to take every safeguard necessary to protect first responders, health care workers and the people of Illinois.”

The upcoming flu season will add stress to first responders and health care providers who will be assigned to care for people with similar symptoms, people who will require the recognition of possible Ebola infections, and the possibility of actual Ebola cases.

Governor Pat Quinn’s directive follows the initiative set with New York governor Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who declared the same rule for travelers landing at New York City-area airports. The rule exceeds federal guidelines, which come under criticism for lack of leadership.

Five U.S. airports are designated to accept passengers returning from the West African countries — O’Hare International Airport, John F. Kennedy in New York, Newark Liberty in New Jersey, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Atlanta, and Washington Dulles in Virginia.