Like many selfless health professionals, Kaci Hickox recently battled Ebola in West Africa under the banner of Doctors Without Borders. On October 24 she returned to the U.S. and was quarantined at a New Jersey hospital. Now Hickox has returned to her home in Maine where she is battling against a quarantine order that she says isn’t needed.
According to a New York Times report Hickox was found to have a slight fever upon return to the U.S. Under New Jersey’s new Ebola preparedness plan the nurse was kept in isolation. According to the Times, New Jersey officials allowed Hickox to travel to her home in Fort Kent, Maine on October 27 under the threat of legal action.
Now Hickox is also challenging Maine’s new Ebola quarantine policies. Maine, like many other states, has recently implemented tougher restrictions on citizens who have come in contact with those infected with Ebola. According to Maine Governor Paul LePage, the state is following CDC guidelines for in-home quarantine of such individuals. The guidelines include direct active monitoring for Ebola symptoms and strict travel restrictions including a ban on public transportation, going into workplaces, and going to public places or congregate gatherings.
Hickox told the Times that she doesn’t believe the quarantine procedures are evidence-based. She also stated that doesn’t think such procedures “do a good job of balancing the risks and benefits when thinking about taking away an individual’s rights.” Hickox’s boyfriend, who she lives with, addressed the media on Thursday night and stated that the couple is “not trying to get anyone sick” but that they also feel they don’t pose a danger to their community.
Hickox and Maine officials, including the state’s attorney general, on Wednesday participated in negotiations to keep Hickox in quarantine for two more weeks. Governor LePage announced on Thursday that those negotiations failed and that he will use all legal means available to address what he sees as a threat to public health.
“We hoped that the healthcare worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols,” said LePage. “We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community. We are exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being of the healthcare worker, anyone who comes in contact with her, the Fort Kent community, and all of Maine. While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state.”