LAKELAND, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott signed an executive order Saturday mandating twice-daily 21-day health monitoring for people returning from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention designated Ebola-affected areas, officials said.
"This executive order will give the Florida Department of Health the authority they need to conduct 21-day health monitoring and risk assessments for all those who have returned or will return to Florida from the CDC designated Ebola-affected areas of Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone," said Scott. "We have asked the CDC to identify the risk levels of all returning individuals from these areas, but they have not provided that information."
Scott said the state is moving quickly to require the four people who have returned to Florida already and anyone in the future who will return to the state from an Ebola area to take part in twice daily 21-day health evaluations with DOH personnel.
"I want to be clear that we are taking this aggressive action at the state level out of an abundance of caution in the absence of much-needed Ebola risk classification information from the CDC," Scott said. "We are using what information is available to our Department of Health through the CDC's Epi-X web-based system, which monitors individuals who travel to areas with infectious diseases, including Ebola."
Using the system, Scott said he and the state know four people have already returned to Florida after traveling to Ebola-affected areas.
After Dr. Craig Spencer tested positive for Ebola in New York, DOH began working to identify anyone who has already returned to Florida after traveling to an Ebola area and is aggressively investigating how much risk these individuals pose for contracting the disease.
"We will take further action to protect the health of these individuals and our communities if we determine any of them are at a 'high risk' of contracting the disease," said Scott. "Further action by the FDOH will include mandatory quarantine of anyone we suspect is at high-risk of testing positive for Ebola due to the type of contact they had with the disease."
Scott adds mandatory twice-daily health monitoring will help the state obtain important information that will assist it in caring for the Floridians who are returning to the state and preventing any spread of the disease if one of the people ever develops possible Ebola symptoms within 21 days of their return.
"Again, we are glad we do not have a case of Ebola in Florida, but we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure we never do," Scott said.
To read Scott's full executive order, click here.