Originally published November 10 2014
Poll says 71% want travelers from Ebola-infected countries to be quarantined
by L.J. Devon, Staff Writer
(NaturalNews) In a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll, a strong majority of Americans feel that a 21-day quarantine should be imposed on all healthcare workers traveling home from Ebola-stricken countries. Seventy-one percent of those surveyed now believe in mandatory quarantines, even if the healthcare workers have no symptoms coming home. Strong public opinion on the matter formed quickly after nurse Kaci Hickox refused quarantine after coming home from treating Ebola patients in West Africa. Hickox showed no symptoms and said that there was no scientific evidence that she is a danger to the public. She challenged governor Chris Christie in New Jersey and governor Paul LePage in Maine; she is currently under surveillance at her home in Maine.
Majority of Americans support mandatory quarantines but don't understand what kind of precedent that would setHickox's refusal to be isolated for 21 days elicited strong public opinion. It appears that a strong majority of Americans (71 percent) support the government's power to detain healthcare workers like Hickox and quarantine her in the name of public safety, even after she tested negative for Ebola.
Still, a strong, passionate, and liberty-minded 24 percent disagree with the idea of a mandatory quarantine and believe that nurses like Kaci Hickox are free first, and don't have to prove their right to freedom to government officials. According to Judge Andrew Napolitano, at this point the government has no business taking freedom from Hickox or anyone else who is returning from Africa without symptoms.
"We start with the principle that she's free. We all have the presumption of liberty in this country. ... If the government wants to confine you, you do not have to prove that you are worthy of freedom. The government has to prove you are worthy of confinement," said Judge Napolitano recently on Fox News Insider [emphasis added]. Napolitano said he understands the concerns of Hickox's neighbors and friends who don't want to contract Ebola, but he said that the government must have a "compelling interest" to keep Hickox detained and under quarantine. Top US health officials and White House administration officials agree with Napolitano that Hickox is free to go.
The majority of Americans believe differently though -- their opinions likely swayed by the Ebola dialogue coming from mainstream news outlets. If Americans give officials the power to isolate themselves now without any scientific basis, then a dangerous precedent is set. Liberty would be lost based on mere suspicions and fears. People could be hunted down and taken from their homes without justifiable cause.
Is it worth it in the end, to quarantine all healthcare workers who have worked with Ebola patients? Should these workers be deprived of 21 days of their individual liberty to protect public health?
The NBC News/Washington Post poll broke down as follows: 85 percent of people identifying with the Republican Party said that quarantines for returning healthcare workers should be mandatory; 65 percent of those identifying as Democrats support the quarantine, too. The strongest supporters for the quarantine are those labeled as Tea Party backers (91 percent). The least support comes from self-described independents (60 percent).
The elderly were also more likely to support mandatory isolation. Only one-tenth of seniors opposed the mandate. On the other hand, 33 percent of young adults oppose the mandate. There were also differences in opinion among education level. Of those with just a high school education, 80 percent supported mandatory quarantines for healthcare workers, while 63 percent of those with college education supported it.
Even though Ebola is a life-threatening disease, with a 70 percent death rate in Africa, officials in the US have no authority to take away a healthcare worker's liberty when they are showing no signs of disease. The survey's pro-quarantine position is likely supported by fear -- fear which can ultimately lead to the demise of liberty, setting a dangerous witch-hunt-like precedent.
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