SOUTH FORSYTH — At a campaign stop in Forsyth County, Gov. Nathan Deal announced the state’s new Ebola policy, which will require quarantine for people who have had direct contact with those with the disease.
“We have put together an Ebola emergency team to be able to deal with this issue should it present itself in our state,” Deal said while visiting Norman’s Landing restaurant Monday on Peachtree Parkway.
“Since Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson Airport is one of five points of entry for individuals who may be coming from affected areas around the world, we believe that we should put some more stringent policies in place.”
Deal’s stop was part of a statewide Republican “victory tour” leading up to the Nov. 4 General Election. Deal faces a challenge for a second term from Democrat Jason Carter.
Earlier at the rally, Deal had encouraged residents to get out and vote. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle, who like Deal is from neighboring Hall County, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and District 24 state Rep. Mark Hamilton of Cumming also spoke at the event.
The policy Deal detailed Monday requires screenings for any travelers coming to the airport from Ebola-affected areas, and will include checking for fever and other symptoms.
“The screening will include measurements of temperature and checking for symptoms of Ebola, and a history of any exposure to anyone that might have been infected with the Ebola virus or individuals that might potentially be Ebola patients themselves,” Deal said.
If symptoms of the disease are present, the travelers will be hospitalized and quarantined. If no symptoms are detected, they will be put into a three-tiered system of high-risk, low-risk and aid workers.
For categories one and three, both civilians and health care workers who have been in direct contact with the disease are required to be quarantined for 21 days, which is the maximum incubation time of the disease. Health workers will be allowed to do self-checks.
“High-risk individuals, that is travelers who are known to have direct exposure to an Ebola patient, those travelers will be subjected to quarantine at a designated facility,” Deal said.
Category two is for travelers coming from affected areas, who have not had contact with an Ebola patient.
“[They] will be required to sign a monitoring agreement with the Georgia Department of Public Health, and this agreement will require them to conduct temperature and self-checks twice per day, and report the results to the Department of Public Health once a day,” Deal said.
According to Deal, it is better for Georgia to be overly cautious.
“I think if you are a major point of entry of people coming from affected areas of the world, then it is an appropriate precaution,” Deal said. “We intend to be as protective of our citizens as possible, but by the same token respect the privacy of these individuals who might be put in these categories.”
Georgia followed Illinois, New Jersey and New York as states with Ebola quarantines. The policy came a day after the White House pressed states to end the isolations.
Deal said the state would not compensate workers who needed to be quarantined, as he felt it was a strain to taxpayers and the responsibility of the organizations.
“I don’t think it’s right to ask the taxpayers of this state to pay for individuals that have perhaps put themselves in this category,” he said. “We’re incurring the expense of all the monitoring and all the quarantining. I think that is something that whoever they work for should assume that responsibility of paying for their expenses.”