Journey to the Center of an Epidemic
The journey to Liberia tests the mettle of any American wanting to help the nation in its Ebola crisis. The trek really begins with fears about how the Samaritan will be received once he or she returns from the epidemic, facing quarantines and stigma. And the first leg lands the traveler in a political and cultural climate in steamy West Africa marked by resilience in the face of genuine threat.
As I prepared to come to Liberia, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued tough mandatory quarantine edicts for medical volunteers returning from Liberia, Guinea, or Sierra Leone, and nurse Kaci Hickox spent days inside a tent in Newark despite having tested negative for Ebola infection. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel ordered mandatory quarantines of soldiers returning from a tour of Ebola duty. And the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) issued far less stringent guidelines for most travelers from the Ebola-hit countries, under which it seemed I would face little more than daily temperature checks upon return. I delayed my departure in hopes of gaining clarity, but left without knowing how long I may be confined, if at all.
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