A nurse in Maine is refusing the voluntary quarantine for possible Ebola infection, her lawyer said Tuesday night.
Kaci Hickox is the nurse who was forcibly quarantined in a hospital in New Jersey, despite displaying no symptoms.
Under Gov. Chris Christie’s stringent quarantine policy, shared by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Hickox had two strikes against her: she had contact with Ebola patients and she had just returned from Sierra Leone, one of the three Ebola-ravaged West African countries.
Hickox has been very vocal about the poor treatment officials showed her, not telling her what was going on and making her feel “like a criminal,” and has threatened to sue.
While the United States Center for Disease Control and Prevention updated its Ebola guidelines Monday, saying that those at high risk should stay away from commercial travel and large gatherings, those guidelines are only recommendations. States are free to choose their own policies.
Following Hickox’s criticism of the mandatory quarantine, she was moved back to her home in Maine where she had initially agreed to be self-quarantined, as Maine’s more lenient state protocols required.
Now even that has been scrapped. Although Hickox said she wouldn’t leave home for two days, her New York lawyer Steven Hyman told Maine local newspaper the Bangor Daily News, “She doesn’t want to agree to continue to be confined to a residence beyond the two days.”
Maine health officials said in a press conference Monday that they were prepared to enforce the voluntary quarantine if necessary and Hickox has now given them cause to do just that.
What her exact plans are have not been disclosed by her lawyers.
Hyman added that Hickox “understands the nature of the disease, she treated it. She understands the nature of the risk.”
Meanwhile Hickox’s coming to Fort Kent has sent residents into a frenzy, worried about Ebola.
Faith Morneault, a 19-year-old behavioral science student at the University of Maine in Fort Kent, said the news had caused “a lot of panic” among students. Still, a measure of calm was a better approach.
“You can’t freak out in this situation. You have to understand it,” she said.