A new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds that almost three quarters of Americans want to see government enforced mandatory quarantines for health workers returning from West Africa.
A whopping 71% of respondents said they felt health workers who have treated Ebola sufferers abroad should be subject to a 21-day isolation, even if they show no symptoms of the virus themselves.
Just 24 percent disagree that the quarantine should be enforced.
When split by political affiliation, 85% of Republicans support quarantine, compared to 65% of Democrats and 60% of independents. A huge 91% of Tea Party backers say they want to see mandatory government detentions.
The debate over the issue has been amplified by the case of the nurse Kaci Hickox, who threatened to sue the states of New Jersey and Maine for issuing quarantine orders which led to her brief detention when she returned from working with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone.
Hickox was held for days in an isolation tent in New Jersey, then had state police deployed to monitor her at her home in Maine.
Hickox has since vowed to avoid public places, with her attorneys and the state having agreed that a temporary court order issued Friday, requiring her to submit to active monitoring in line with the federal guidelines for Ebola, will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, when the 21-day incubation period for Ebola expires.
The state originally issued a court order that restricted her movements and contact with others altogether, but retracted the order a few hours later. It is thought that the White House pressured the State into reversing the order.
Appearing on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday, Senator Rand Paul discussed the issue of enforced quarantine, noting “The libertarian in me is sort of horrified at the idea of indefinitely detaining anyone without a trial.”
“One of the basic rights we inherited from the English and that we got from common law was the right of habeas corpus, to present the body.” Paul added.
“If the king were detaining you in the Tower of London or a governor or anybody who is detaining you, you have to have recourse to a lawyer and to a judge.” the Senator, currently preparing a 2016 presidential campaign, continued.
“We have to be very careful of people’s civil liberties, but I’m not saying the government doesn’t have a role in trying to prevent contagion,” Paul added. “The libertarian in me says she has to have recourse to a lawyer, to a judge, and if she is going to be confined, it has to be through a judicial process.”
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