One day after governors in New York, New Jersey and Illinois imposed a mandatory 21-day quarantine on medical workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa, public health officials in the District, Maryland and Virginia did not follow suit Saturday, intensifying a national debate over how to prevent the spread of the disease.

Health officials are working to develop a consistent approach for the area around the nation’s capital. Joxel Garcia, director of the D.C. Department of Health, said that a mandatory quarantine was not scientifically justified and could have a chilling effect on the medical personnel, many of them volunteers, needed to treat Ebola patients at home and overseas.

The differing views highlight challenges confronting federal and state politicians as well as health officials as they race to keep up with fast-changing circumstances and competing political, scientific and legal demands, experts said.

That debate sharpened Saturday as the first person affected by the quarantine requirement in New York and New Jersey — a nurse who tested negative for the Ebola virus but remained under quarantine after landing Friday at Newark Liberty International Airport — authored an angry first-person account in the Dallas Morning News about how she was forcibly transported by an eight-police car caravan to the hospital.

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