Hagel orders mandatory Ebola 21-day quarantine for returning troops

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel speaks at the sixth annual "Washington Ideas Forum" in Washington, Wednesday, Oct. 29, 2014. Hagel has approved a recommendation by military leaders that all U.S. troops returning from Ebola response missions in West Africa be kept in supervised isolation for 21 days. The move goes beyond precautions recommended by the Obama administration for civilians, although President Barack Obama has made clear he feels the military's situation is different from that of civilians, in part because troops are not in West Africa by choice. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

After a short period of deliberation, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered all military personnel returning from West Africa on Ebola response missions undergo a 21-day quarantine period.

Only days earlier, according to FOX News, the Army imposed its own policy on its service members requiring the quarantine.  Hagel, on the recommendation of the Joints Chiefs of Staff, signed an order that applies to all military branches.

“The fact is the military will have more Americans in Liberia than any other department,” Hagel said.

President Obama and the White House have downplayed the need for mandatory quarantines.  They have let the Pentagon enact its own policies for military personnel.  The argument for the division by the White House is that volunteer health care workers returning to the U.S. is a separate issue.

State governments are also legislating their own policies regarding quarantine requirements.

FOX News reported that California is the latest state to establish a stricter policy than the federal government.  It will be requiring a 21-day quarantine on any travelers from West Africa who have come in contact with Ebola infected individuals.

Maine has also imposed a similar quarantine but has met resistance from a nurse who believes the policy is unconstitutional.  Kaci Hickox told NBC’s “Today” show that she has no plans to follow the guidelines.

“I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so I’m not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians…when I am not a risk to the American public,” she said.

The Pentagon has stated that all returning service members are subjects to the 21-day “controlled monitoring,” otherwise known as a quarantine.  Hagel has ordered the Joint Chiefs of Staff to create a detailed implementation plan within the next two weeks.

In addition, he wants the policy reviewed in 45 days to see if it is still appropriate.  Hagel pointed out that most of the military are not volunteers for the Ebola mission and are there to provide counsel on health facility logistics.

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