People wear medical masks as a precaution against coronavirus, walking around the in the streets of New York, United States on January 30, 2020.
Nassau County health officials said Wednesday that they have placed 83 Americans in self-quarantine after returning to New York from China amid concerns they were exposed to the new coronavirus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified local officials that a plane was carrying Nassau County residents with “potential exposure” to the virus, Health Commissioner for Nassau County Dr. Lawrence Eisenstein told reporters. Potential exposure, in this case, means that they had traveled to China in the past 14 days.
“It is our job to within 24 hours of receiving this notice to reach out to them … to let them know we are asking them to isolate themselves,” he said, adding that “in most cases” they are voluntarily quarantined at home. For 14 days, “we expect them to remove themselves from other people including their family members.”
While the quarantine remains voluntary, Eisenstein added that, “If somebody were not compliant we would take next steps.”
Since Jan. 31, when the Trump administration declared the outbreak a public health emergency in the U.S., Americans across the country who return from China have been asked to self-quarantine. The voluntary quarantine stands in contrast to federally issued mandatory quarantine orders, which have been issued to Americans returning from Hubei province, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Eisenstein said that health officials check in with those in self-quarantine daily to check their temperature and monitor them for symptoms. However, no officials will enforce the quarantine or ensure that the subjected individuals are remaining in their homes.