Two weeks after being admitted to Yale-New Haven Hospital with Ebola-like symptoms, Ryan Boyko GRD ’18 has been released from a state-mandated quarantine.
Despite testing negative in two separate tests for the virus, the 30-year-old Yale School of Public Health graduate student was quarantined in his home by the Connecticut Department of Public Health following the scare on Oct. 16. Boyko returned from his ninth visit to Liberia on Oct. 11, having spent three weeks working on a computer program to track and monitor the spread of Ebola.
Since revealing his identity earlier this week, Boyko has lambasted the state’s quarantine order.
“I am of course happy to be let out of unwarranted home confinement, but am still upset that Connecticut and other states have adopted unsound, unscientific policies likely to worsen the epidemic in West Africa and make Americans less safe,” Boyko wrote in a Thursday email.
Boyko said that while the incubation period for Ebola is 21 days, the state can only make quarantine orders for 20 days at a time but decided not to renew the orders for a 21st day for reasons unbeknownst to him.
Spokesperson for the Connecticut Department of Public Health William Gerrish said the department is unable to comment on specific quarantine cases for privacy reasons.
Yale School of Public Health Dean Paul Cleary said that Boyko’s quarantine was not lifted early. Cleary explained that the miscommunication between Boyko and the DPH, which ultimately decided his release date, is related to the question of exactly when he returned from Liberia.
In recent days, Boyko has taken to the airwaves — including CNN and MSNBC — to criticize mandatory quarantines.
“Politics is the only reason these quarantines have been implemented,” Boyko said.
While in Liberia, Boyko did not come into contact with anyone exhibiting symptoms of Ebola, but he did come in contact with NBC cameraman Ashoka Mupko, who developed symptoms of the virus a day later.
When asked about the scientific basis for the 21-day quarantine, Gerrish said that the state laws and quarantining orders were in line with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention procedures, which has stated that, because the disease has a maximum incubation period of 21 days, those who may have been exposed to the virus should be quarantined for that time. The World Health Organization sets a maximum 42-day incubation period for the virus to provide maximum security.
However, Gregg Gonsalves, codirector of the Global Health Justice Partnership, insisted that the decision of Connecticut State Public Health Commissioner Jewel Mullen ’77 SPH ’96 to quarantine Boyko appeared more like the result of “political football” than of scientifically informed choices.
“Just look at the New England Journal of Medicine or maybe the Association for Profession and Infection Control — every single journal says there is no reason to quarantine asymptomatic patients,” Gonsalves added. “There’s pretty iron-clad scientific consensus on what the facts are.”
Although Cleary said he has been in communication with Mullen, they have not discussed Mullen’s justification for the quarantine in detail. Cleary added that he thinks the decision to quarantine Boyko was “not based on the best evidence.”
Nevertheless, Boyko expressed a desire to maintain a relationship with the DPH. He said that he wants to continue working with the department in hopes of bringing its procedures for managing the spread of Ebola closer to those set by the CDC and other national institutions.
While his quarantine has ended, Bokyo is continuing to self-monitor for symptoms and will still follow all recommended precautions for travelers from infected areas for the entire 21-day period. He said that the Connecticut DPH will no longer call him to check on his condition and has not done so since the end of the quarantine on Wednesday evening.
Yale-New Haven Hospital could not be reached for comment.