After refusing to stop incoming flights from Africa, and then forcing governors in three states to stop quarantining returning doctors, the Pentagon has ignored the Obama administration’s own policy and has started quarantining returning members of the military.
U.S. Army soldiers returning from Liberia are being placed in isolation in Vicenza, Italy and will be held there for at least 21 days. Army Major General Darryl A. Williams, commander of U.S. Army Africa, and approximately 10 other members of the U.S. military have been placed under quarantine in Italy after returning from West Africa over the weekend, according to multiple U.S. military officials.
Williams’ plane was met on the ground by Italian authorities “in full CDC gear,” the official said, referring to the type of protective equipment worn by U.S. health care workers. Another 30 members of the military are expected to be placed under quarantine orders later today.
Refusing to use the word Quarantine, the Obama administration is instead saying the isolated soldiers are under “enhanced monitoring.” Despite the political name play, family members say the soldiers are confined to a building and are unable to speak to their families – sounds a lot like quarantine to me.
Two sets of rules?
This comes as the White House and the CDC both pressured New Jersey and New York to immediately stop their policies of quarantining returning healthcare workers. While the Obama administration seems to have a different set of rules for returning military, they have yet again changed their recommendations for everyone else.
This morning, federal health officials issued new guidelines calling for voluntary, home quarantine for people returning from West Africa at the highest risk of contracting Ebola. The new guidelines, similar to ones that allowed an infected doctor to roam freely throughout New York, have no real power, and do nothing to stop infected individuals from coming to the country and spreading the disease.
A senior U.S. official told Fox News, “The Obama administration is going to war with New York and New Jersey, but its own military is recommending the same thing.”
Officials have refused to fully explain why the group of soldiers was being put under “controlled monitoring”, which is counter to the Pentagon policy. The current DOD policy on monitoring returning troops says “as long as individuals remain asymptomatic, they may return to work and routine daily activities with family members.”
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that the Defense Department policy is “still under development.” When pressed on the issue on why returning military will be subject to quarantine when returning doctors are allowed to freely roam the streets, Earnest said it’s up to the Defense Department to announce its policies for troops that return from the region.
“We are seeing this administration put in place the policies that we believe are necessary to protect the American people and to protect the American troops,” he said. “And we’re going to let science drive that process. And as soon as we have a policy to announce on this, we’ll let you know.”