Texas’ Ebola guidelines are careful, strong

Give Gov. Rick Perry this: He can learn from others’ mistakes.

On Tuesday, Perry announced guidelines for dealing with healthcare workers and others returning to Texas from Ebola-ravaged countries in West Africa.

He avoided blanket quarantine requirements announced and quickly backtracked by some other governors, calling for quarantines only in the case of people who show symptoms of the disease or those with “high-risk exposure” such as a needle stick injury or direct exposure to body fluids of a symptomatic Ebola victim without using personal protective equipment.

Relying on recommendations from his Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, a 15-member group of medical professionals and others he appointed Oct. 6, Perry is being cautious but deliberate in dealing with real Ebola threats and associated public fear.

In 14 years, we’ve seen shoot-from-the-hip Rick Perry and thoughtful Rick Perry. Especially on Ebola, thoughtful is much better.

Guidelines he approved Tuesday focus on healthcare workers returning from the fight against Ebola in West Africa — more than 13,500 cases have been reported and almost 5,000 people have died in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone — but they could apply to others who have traveled to the affected countries.

The guidelines refer to “heroic professionals” who have helped in West Africa and cite “the continued need for American healthcare workers to stem the outbreak at its origin.”

The task force separated returning individuals into four categories depending on direct exposure to symptomatic Ebola patients: high risk, some risk, low risk and no identifiable risk.

People at high risk, including those with needle pricks or who failed to wear protective gear, could be blocked from airline travel and are subject to quarantine in their homes.

Those at some risk face limits on travel and participation in public events and patient care, but may have visitors.

Low-risk people are subject to health reviews and monitoring.

Perry directed state health officials to implement the task force recommendations.