MIAMI, Florida (AP) — Florida Gov. Rick Scott is ordering twice daily monitoring for anyone returning from places the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designates as affected by Ebola.
Scott signed the order Saturday, giving the Florida Health Department authority to monitor individuals for 21 days. Scott said in a press release that his administration had asked the CDC to identify risk levels of returning individuals from specific parts of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, requesting information specifically about the risk level for four people who had already returned. His office said that the CDC had identified the four individuals who faced some risk but had not provided the levels of risk.
"Therefore, we are moving quickly to require the four individuals who have returned to Florida already - and anyone in the future who will return to Florida from an Ebola area - to take part in twice daily 21-day health evaluations with DOH personnel," he said.
Florida joins New Jersey, New York and Illinois in ordering the 21-day monitoring program.
There are no direct flights to the United States from West Africa. It was not immediately clear how many individuals returning from the affected areas would end up in Florida.
Scott said the health department used the CDC's web-based system to identify the four individuals.
The CDC did not immediately respond to an Associated Press inquiry Sunday regarding Scott's announcement.
It released a general statement, explaining that it sets baseline recommended standards, "but state and local officials have the prerogative to tighten the regimen as they see fit," adding, "When it comes to the federal standards set by the CDC, we will consider any measures that we believe have the potential to make the American people safer."
Scott said if the health department determines any of those monitored are at a high risk of contracting the disease, the state will take further action to protect those individuals and the rest of Florida with a mandatory quarantine.
Scott spokesman Frank Gonzalez said county health workers would visit those deemed at low risk and take their temperatures twice daily. He did not immediately provide details as to how state officials would implement mandatory quarantines.
Vague details of how such quarantines would be handled have sparked criticism by infectious disease experts who say enforcement logistics are up in the air.