California Orders Risk-Based Ebola Quarantines

State Health Department announces new regulations as Stanford surgeon places himself in voluntary quarantine

Anyone arriving in California from an area with an active Ebola outbreak and came into contact with someone who had the deadly virus must be quarantined for 21 days, the state’s Department of Public Health ordered Wednesday, the same day a Stanford doctor decided to put himself in voluntary quarantine after treating Ebola patients in Liberia.

Dr. Colin Bucks is healthy but will remain in isolation for a total of 21 days, San Mateo County health officials said. He is in isolation and avoiding all close contact with others, meaning he is not going to work at Stanford Medical Center, but he is allowed to leave his house to go jogging by himself.

Health officials said Bucks remains healthy, showing no signs of contracting the virus, and continues to take his temperature twice a day.

The California Department of Health released new regulations regarding the Ebola virus Wednesday morning.

How and where affected people will be quarantined will be left to each county’s public health officials, the order said. Anyone traveling from the affected areas will be initially screened by federal officials at the airport.

State officials are informed of anyone meeting the criteria threshold, and local departments will now be asked in turn asked to manage individual cases.

Observation, monitoring and possible restriction of travel and movement can be ordered.

“This tailored approach for each traveler, implemented through partnership between the California Department of Public Health and local health officers, respects the individual circumstances of each traveler while protecting and preserving the public health,” the agency said in a statement.

Currently, active areas include the West African countries of Guinea, Mali, Liberia and Sierra Leone.

The order from Dr. Ron Chapman, director of the agency, also makes clear that failure to comply could result in misdemeanor criminal charges.

In Southern California, Riverside County's health department announced Tuesday that two people recently returned from West Africa but said they did not contact any patients and were being monitored for 21 days. They are considered low risk.

Orange County health officials are monitoring two recent travelers as well, according to the Orange County Register.

It’s critical to note, to date, there have been no reported cases of Ebola in California.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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