Maine Nurse Goes for a Bike Ride, Cops Follow

Kaci Hickox says she won't be bullied by politicians, will fight quarantine
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 30, 2014 4:47 AM CDT
Updated Oct 30, 2014 8:20 AM CDT
Nurse: I'll Fight Quarantine in Court
State troopers and a television reporter stand across from the home where Kaci Hickox, a nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa, is staying in Fort Kent, Maine.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty)

Kaci Hickox went on a bike ride today, hours after saying she's going to fight the stigma on medical professionals who've treated Ebola patients and not let politicians bully her. With a showdown looming over her potential forced quarantine in Maine, the nurse emerged from her home to speak to reporters last night, shaking the hand of one as police looked on, the AP reports. Then, the AP adds, she left home with her boyfriend to go on the ride this morning, as police followed, unable to stop her without a court order making her quarantine mandatory. If such an order comes, "then I will challenge those legal actions," she tells NBC. "I'm not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it's not science-based." Her lawyer says the "ball is now in the court of Maine" and "if there is any attempt to physically apprehend her" when she leaves her home, "we will fight for her freedom." More:

  • Her case is a "tipping point" in the debate over how health care workers and others returning from West Africa are treated, Hickox tells the New York Times. "So many states have started enacting these policies that I think are just completely not evidence-based," she says. "They don't do a good job of balancing the risks and benefits when thinking about taking away an individual's rights."

  • Maine's health commissioner says that if Hickox does leave her home before the 21-day incubation period for the virus is up and there's no court order to enforce the quarantine, state police will monitor her movements and contacts. A state trooper in a car across the street from her house told the Bangor Daily News he was working with the Maine CDC to "monitor her movement and ensure her safety."
  • Hickox is in Fort Kent, a small college town just over the border from Canada. It's in the biggest county east of the Mississippi and one of the most sparsely populated. "She can go walk the woods and never meet a soul for the day," a political science professor at the University of Maine tells Bloomberg. "I don't think that people are overly concerned," he says. "I think they're more concerned about the publicity it brings."
  • America's most populous state, meanwhile, has brought in tough quarantine rules for health care workers and others who have been in contact with Ebola patients. Under what officials in California say will be a "flexible, case-by-case approach," people considered at risk will be quarantined at home for 21 days and could face fines or imprisonment if they don't comply, the Los Angeles Times reports.
(Read more Kaci Hickox stories.)

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