'This Week': Quarantined Nurse Speaks Out

ABC News' Linsey Davis reports on the controversy over new mandatory quarantines in some states for "high risk" travelers, and NIH's Head of Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci weighs in.
6:39 | 10/26/14

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Transcript for 'This Week': Quarantined Nurse Speaks Out
Announcer: Starting right now on ABC's "This week" -- terror attacks. In Canada and New York. Brand-new details on the investigations and why this morning federal officials are so worried about more lone wolves. Ebola in America. The first case in a city of 8 million. The controversial new quarantine policy in place. Is it keeping us safe or an unfair overreaction? Exploding air bags. The urgent recall sparking new confusion and outrage. How did the government let this happen? And countdown to the midterms. Nine days to go. The key races that have even the experts stumped, and George P. Bush revealing whether he thinks his father Jeb will run in 2016. From ABC news, "This week with George stephanopoulos" begins now. Good morning. I'm Martha Raddatz, and as we come on the air, new details about ebola in America, a fiery new debate. Is it fair to order mandatory quarantines for health care workers returning from the hot zone, or is it an overreaction? The debate exploding this morning after one health care worker says she was treated like a criminal. Plus, brand-new information on the condition of that American doctor who has ebola. ABC's linsey Davis is tracking it all for us in New York this morning. Reporter: Health care worker Kaci Hickox, the first high-risk traveler automatically quarantined in New Jersey has tested negative for ebola but remains under mandatory quarantine. In an open letter to "The Dallas morning news," she says she was treated like a criminal when she returned home from treating ebola patients in Sierra Leone. Of her arrival at Newark airport she writes, "I sat alone in the isolation tent and thought of many colleagues who will return home to America and face the same ordeal." She says she was held for six hours grilled by officials and given only a granola bar and water detained even after her temperature was taken at a healthy 98 degrees. On Saturday New Jersey governor Chris Christie responded. I'm sorry if in any way she was inconvenienced but the inconvenience that could occur from having folks who are symptomatic and ill out amongst the public is a much greater concern of mine. Reporter: Late Saturday Florida joined Illinois, new York and New Jersey all now imposing their own mandatory 21-day quarantine far stricter than the federal requirements for high-risk travelers entering the U.S. Ashoka mukpo, the freelance journalist who recovered from the virus, says the quarantine policy threatens those on the front lines of the fight against ebola. Anything that makes it more difficult for those people to go is not the right thing to do right now. Reporter: Hickox is one of four people in the New York area now quarantined by state order. Another, Morgan Dixon, seen here returning late last night to the Harlem apartment she shares with fiance and ebola patient Dr. Craig Spencer, who is still hospitalized. Hickox's attorney tells ABC news they believe the state's quarantine policy infringes on her liberty interests, and they are preparing to challenge it. Martha. Thanks, linsey. Joining us now Dr. Anthony Fauci director of the national institute of allergy and infectious diseases. Dr. Fauci, I want to go straight to the issue with this nurse. She was kept in a tent and writes in this editorial, "I am scared. I am scared about how health workers will be treated. No one seemed to be in charge. No one would tell me what was going on and what would happen to me." Is this how people are being trained to deal with people? Well, first of all, two principles, one, we need to protect the American public but, two, we need to make the decisions based on scientific data, and we know that people who are without symptoms are not a threat to transmitting it. You don't get ebola unless you come into direct contact with body fluid, so there are things that we've got to be careful -- Which governor Christie even said she was symptomatic and ill. She wasn't symptomatic and ill. No. And the point is, the scientific evidence is what needs to drive us. You appreciate the fears of the American people, but you don't want to have a policy that would have negative unintended consequences. So how did this happen? How did this health care worker come in and be treated like that? I cannot explain that, Martha. I can just tell you that what we want to do is make sure first protect the American public but do so based on scientific data. We keep repeating over and over again, the scientific data tells us that people who are without symptoms with whom you don't come into contact with body fluids are not a threat. They will not get infected. What's your reaction to this mandatory quarantine then in new York and New Jersey? Well, as a scientist and as a health person, if I were asked, I would not have recommended that. Does it put more pressure on the CDC to change its policy? No. Should there be some national policy? The CDC will continue to make their policies based on scientific data. Now, that doesn't mean that they're cavalier about this at all. There are different levels of risk to a health care worker, and there are different levels of monitoring. If you put everyone in one basket, even people who are clearly no threat, then we have the problem of the disincentive of people that we need, let's not forget, the best way to stop this epidemic is to -- and protect America is to stop it in Africa, and you can really help stopping it in Africa if we have our people, our heroes, the health care workers go there and help us to protect America. We can't lose sight of that. Well, let's go back to this week and we saw Nina Pham released. We saw her hugging the president clearly to send a message. Right. But at the same time this week on Friday, Debra burger, a co-president of national nurses united testified that the new CDC guidelines were still unclear, especially the protective equipment she said the lack of mandates and shifting guidelines and reliance on voluntary compliance has left care givers vulnerable to infection. Right now if you look at the recommendations, they are clearly more stringent than they were right now. I know because I took care of Nina, and I'm using the recommendations, and clearly if you follow the recommendations now, and you are trained -- but here's the critical issue, Martha. It isn't just a recommendation on left side. You have to be trained. You have to practice. You have to have people helping you put the material on and taking it off. Okay, thanks very much for joining us, Dr. Fauci.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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