Ebola Fear: Nurse in Maine defies home quarantine, goes for bike ride; state mulls legal action

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(CNN) — In the tense standoff between a Maine nurse and state officials, it was a surreal scene.

Nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned to the United States after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, went on a bike ride with her boyfriend Thursday — followed by a police cruiser and a throng of journalists watching their every move.

Her lawyer called the ride “a good way to exercise her right.” Hickox told reporters she “just wanted to enjoy this beautiful day.”

Hours later, Maine Gov. Paul LePage said negotiations with Hickox over where she could go had failed, adding that he would “exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law” to keep her away from public places.

“I don’t want her within three feet of anybody,” LePage told CNN affiliate WCSH.

“Right now she can come out of the house if she wants, but we can’t protect her when she does that. The reason there’s a police car there when she does that is to protect her more than anybody. ‘Cause the last thing I want is for her to get hurt,” LePage said. “But at the same token, her behavior is really riling a lot of people up, and I can only do what I can do. And we’re trying to protect her, but she’s not acting as smart as she probably should.”

The state has made it clear it’s going to do something. But what?

State officials have previously said they want the nurse — who has twice tested negative for Ebola and says she feels healthy — to avoid public places such as stores for 21 days. That’s the deadly virus’ incubation period. She’s about halfway there; that period, in her case, is set to end the second week in November.

“I’m just asking her to be reasonable,” LePage told WCSH. “Let’s get to November 10, and then you can do whatever you would like.”

Attorney: Nurse was making a point with bike ride

Hickox has said it’s state officials who aren’t being reasonable. She contends the U.S. Constitution and science are on her side.

On Wednesday, she emerged from the home where she has been staying and said she was willing to compromise with the state.

She said she was open to travel restrictions, such as barring her from public transportation and limiting her to Fort Kent, a town of 4,000 on the Canadian border.

“So I think there are things that, I know, work,” she said. “And I know all aid workers are willing to do those things. But I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based.”

What could be next?

When she returned from a month working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone last week, Hickox had a temperature at an airport in Newark, New Jersey, officials said. She was put into an isolation tent.

She blasted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for enforcing a new policy that required anyone who was showing symptoms of Ebola, including an elevated temperature, to be isolated.

Since returning to Maine, she has said in numerous interviews that she feels healthy.

State troopers have been parked outside Hickox’s boyfriend’s home.

On Wednesday, Gov. LePage said that Hickox “has been unwilling to follow the protocols set forth by the Maine Center for Disease Control & Prevention and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for medical workers who have been in contact with Ebola patients.”

The statement didn’t say which protocols she was resisting but added that LePage is seeking legal authority to enforce a quarantine.

Maine Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew said Wednesday that the process to file a court order had already begun.

 

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7 comments

  • Ml

    This nurse sounds like she’s just trying to be difficult. If you travel to the “hot zone” of the biggest Ebola outbreak yet why wouldn’t you expect for the U.S. , CDC, etc to enforce isolation for the known incubation time of Ebola???? Yes, yes of course Ebola is only transmitted via body fluids so you’re not likely to get in everyday interactions. It’s Ebola!!!! Let’s not take chances that don’t need to be taken. The amount of infected and dead this time has been faster and larger than ever before. To me and I’m no expert, it would seem that something is different with the virus this time around. A slight mutation? Viruses are known for that. So I’m not saying we need to go into hysterics, but a bit of caution is good and a healthcare worker of all people should understand that.

  • KRYSTAL

    she wants the attention!! Look at me Look at me!! Really if you wish to go help these people great thank you good for you but!! And a big BUT when you come home you need to be tested Quarantine make sure without a doubt you are not bringing this back to the states to other people!! a cure is needed but until one is found we need to keep it out of our country and out of the population!! She is being a braty school child and risking the health of everyone!! This should not be a challenge the government fiasco because its just stupid to do so and risk getting mass amount of people ill!! safety is the upmost!!

  • Knoll

    It’s her right to risk her own life but it is NOT her right to risk MINE. Travel to these third world countries ought to be one way only.

  • Barb

    What a selfish nurse. Even if she was cleared before she came back to the USA means nothing to me. If they wanted her in quarantine here there must be a reason. Even if this nurse knew she was not sick she still only thought about herself. she should have stayed in quarantine and so she would have felt better about herself, and the public would feel more secure.

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