The Obama administration has voiced concerns over new Ebola quarantine policies in some states. New Jersey, New York, Florida and Illinois are telling medical workers returning from West Africa to stay isolated for 21 days. Health officials call the move ineffective.
"Quarantine is not about voluntary compliance, it's really the means of the state," CBS News legal analyst Rikki Klieman said on "CBS This Morning."
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a person should only be put in isolation if they are confirmed to have Ebola in order to prevent others from contracting the disease. Quarantine, on the other hand, "separates and restricts the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick."
Klieman said even if a seemingly healthy person refuses quarantine, states can claim that preservation of public safety. The argument goes that in the event the person becomes sick, a state's authority trumps an individual's rights.
Kaci Hickox was the first person to face these new protocols, when she landed in New Jersey after volunteering to fight the disease as a nurse in West Africa. She was isolated in a fifteen-by-twenty-foot room with no shower, and those conditions raised humanitarian concerns. But on Monday, Governor Chris Christie agreed to release her from the mandatory quarantine.
Kleiman said going forward, any person facing a situation similar to Kickox will need a lawyer to argue that the state is using "the least restricted means necessary" to prevent spreading of the disease. With Samantha Power, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and American health care workers still in West Africa, officials are likely to come across the decision again.