More than seven in 10 Americans support mandatory quarantines for health professionals who have treated Ebola patients in West Africa, even if they have no symptoms, according to a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
The survey shows that 71 percent of those surveyed say the health workers should be subject to a 21-day quarantine, while 24 percent disagree.
The question of mandatory quarantines exploded into the public debate after nurse Kaci Hickox battled with the governors of New Jersey and Maine over the mandated isolation, arguing that she has exhibited no symptoms and tested negative for the virus. Those who oppose the practice – including top health officials and White House administration officials – say that it is unnecessary and discourages health workers from fighting the Ebola outbreak at its source.
Support for the quarantines varies by political party, age and education level.
Eighty-five percent of self-described Republicans say they think the quarantines should be enforced, versus 65 percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents. Ninety-one percent of Tea Party backers also believe the quarantines are necessary.
Older Americans are also more likely to back mandatory isolation for the health workers. A third of those 18-34 years old oppose the requirements, compared with just one in 10 seniors.
And those with lower levels of education are more likely to support quarantines (80 percent of those with a high school education or less are in favor) than those with college or post-graduate educations (63 percent are in favor.)
The poll was conducted October 30 through November 1, 2014. The margin of error for the poll question regarding Ebola quarantines was 5.73 percent.