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Northwest States Shaping Up Ebola Policies As More Travelers Arrive Home


Each day now, travelers are arriving home to the Northwest who may have been exposed to Ebola. In Oregon, a woman who has come back from West Africa was just hospitalized Friday with a fever. 

But the ink isn’t yet dry on Washington, Oregon and Idaho’s policies on how to isolate these travelers. And the hustle is on to adequately train healthcare workers.

In Oregon, state officials said they have fully adopted the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention protocol. The state has also adapted its own CDC-based algorithm to access someone’s risk level of developing Ebola.

In Washington, the state said it’s basically following CDC guidelines too. Except if a traveler is at high-risk for getting the virus, county health districts will put limits on their movements and ability to go to public places. And Washington state’s current policy is to check on these people’s temperature twice daily. That’s more often than the CDC currently recommends.

Scott Lindquist is Washington’s infectious disease expert. He said the state is also working hard to ramp up training for medical professionals at hospitals in case they receive a patient with suspected Ebola.

“Do I think every hospital in Washington is ready? No, not all of them,” Lindquist said. “But we’re working with the hospital association, the nurses association, the medical association both to provide training, to provide the equipment.”

In Idaho, officials say they aren’t receiving many travelers yet, and expect to come out with their policies by early next week.

Anna King calls Richland, Washington home and loves unearthing great stories about people in the Northwest. She reports for the Northwest News Network from a studio at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. She covers the Mid-Columbia region, from nuclear reactors to Mexican rodeos.