News release: State will carefully monitor recent travelers from Ebola-affected regions

News Release
October 27, 2014

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State will carefully monitor recent travelers from Ebola-affected regions

Minnesota Department of Health will monitor, for 21 days, individuals traveling from West Africa to Minnesota

After consulting with a team of experts in public health, medicine, ethics and law, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton and Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ed Ehlinger today announced the framework for Minnesota’s plans to monitor the health of any individual returning to Minnesota after traveling from one of the countries in West Africa affected by the Ebola outbreak.

"My number one priority is to do whatever will best protect all Minnesotans from exposure to this disease. We believe the framework we are announcing today provides the most effective, science-based approach we can take to carefully monitor individuals and protect the public while ensuring the rights of citizens are not abused," Gov. Dayton said.

Over the weekend, Governor Dayton, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) and the team of experts developed the basic framework for Minnesota’s monitoring program, which has begun. Based on guidance from CDC, Minnesota’s plan covers four types of returning travelers:

  • Those who were not providing health care in an affected country.
  • Those who were providing health care to an Ebola patient in an affected country but have no known exposure.
  • Those who are contacts of a known Ebola patient (but not a health care worker) and have a known exposure.
  • Those who provided health care to an Ebola patient and have a known exposure.

According to the framework:

  • All identified travelers will receive active case management that will include twice daily monitoring by MDH staff.
  • None of the individuals being monitored will be allowed to use public transportation for trips lasting longer than three hours, regardless of exposure history.
  • Only those with a known exposure will be restricted from using local public transit or attending mass gatherings.
  • All travelers will be allowed to have family members in their home.
  • Only those travelers who treated an Ebola patient and have been exposed will be required to be restricted in their home (have no physical contact with others).
  • All travelers will be required to keep a log of all activities and a log of close contacts during the 21 days.
  • Any situation involving children or adults who work with children will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

"This is a framework for monitoring, but we recognize and anticipate that every situation is going to be somewhat different. We will rely on the expertise of our team of epidemiologists, infection control specialists and medical experts to determine the course of action in each case that will be most effective in limiting the possibilities that the individual could spread disease to others," Minnesota Health Commissioner Dr. Ehlinger said.

"These new protective measures will best protect the safety of all Minnesotans," Gov. Dayton said. "State officials, airport officials, medical professionals, first responders, and our federal partners will remain constantly vigilant to protect Minnesotans from exposure to Ebola."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week announced a new nationwide effort to enhance public health protections against Ebola. Beginning today in six states and expanding quickly to all 50 states, the CDC will work with state health agencies to monitor the health of any individual who has recently traveled to Ebola-affected regions of West Africa. The basic plan calls for daily monitoring of individuals’ temperatures and checking for any other Ebola-like symptoms for the 21 days after that person enters the United States.

"While there may still be certain details that need to be amended as we move forward, we believe the basic elements of the plan will add another layer of protection for families, communities and health care workers," Ehlinger said.

Those individuals who attended meetings on Sunday with Gov. Dayton and provided their input on the plan were:

  • Dr. Ed Ehlinger Minnesota’s Commissioner of Health
  • Dr. Michael Osterholm, Director of Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota
  • Dr. Brooks Jackson, Vice President for Health Sciences and Dean of the University of Minnesota Medical School
  • Dr. Steven Miles, Professor of Bioethics and Medicine, Center for Bioethics; University of Minnesota Medical School
  • Dr. John Finnegan, Dean of the School of Public Health, University of Minnesota
  • Jeff Hamiel, Executive Director and CEO, Metropolitan Airports Commission
  • Kristi Rollwagen, Manager of Emergency Programs, Metropolitan Airports Commission
  • Kris Ehresmann, Director, Infectious Disease, Epidemiology, Prevention and Control Division, Minnesota Dept. of Health
  • Arden Fritz, Minnesota Dept. of Health legal counsel
  • Dr. Ruth Lynfield, Minnesota Dept. of Health State Epidemiologist and Medical Director
  • Dr. Aaron DeVries, Minnesota Dept. of Health Medical Director of Infectious Disease Program
  • Aggie Leitheiser, Minnesota Dept. of Health Assistant Commissioner Health Protection Bureau

-MDH-


Media inquiries:

Doug Schultz
MDH Communications
651-201-4993