Judge rejects nurse Ebola quarantine
Fort Kent, Maine — A Maine judge on Friday rejected a bid by state health officials to restrict the movement of nurse Kaci Hickox, who defied a state quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.
Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere ruled that Hickox should continue daily monitoring and coordinate travel with state officials so monitoring can continue. But, because she’s not showing symptoms, the judge says she’s not infectious.
The state went to court Thursday to impose restrictions until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola ends on Nov. 10.
Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, contended confinement at her home in northern Maine violated her rights.
She also contended it’s not necessary because she poses no risk. She defied the state’s voluntary quarantine by holding a news conference and going for a bike ride.
There was no immediate comment from the governor’s office. State police, who had been monitoring her house, left the residence shortly after 12:30 p.m.
Hickox, 33, stepped into the media glare when she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After being released from a hospital there, she returned to this small town, where she was placed under what Maine authorities called a voluntary quarantine.
She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.
“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she said earlier in the week.
The legal action is shaping up as the nation’s biggest test case yet in the struggle to balance public health and fear of Ebola against personal freedom.
In a court filing, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention backed away from the state’s original request for an in-home quarantine and called for restrictions that fall in line with federal guidelines.
Hickox remains at risk of being infected with Ebola until the end of a 21-day incubation period, Dr. Sheila Pinette.
“It is my opinion that the respondent should be subjected to an appropriate public health order for mandatory direct active monitoring and restrictions on movement as soon as possible and until the end of the incubation period … to protect the public health and safety,” she wrote.
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