A temporary court order issued on Thursday will restrict nurse Kaci Hickox from visiting open public spaces. The petition, filed by the state of Maine and signed by a judge, comes as a response to Hickox’s recent visit to Sierra Leone in West Africa, where she had been treating Ebola patients.
The restrictions follow recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for individuals considered at “some risk” of exposure to Ebola who show no symptoms of illness. This category includes anyone who has had direct contact or exposure to infected individuals within a 21-day incubation period. The guidelines, however, do not require isolation.
Hickox has vowed to fight any court order, believing such a move violates her civil rights and is unnecessary considering she currently shows no symptoms of the disease. For the time being, she also continues to monitor herself on a daily basis in accordance with guidelines from the CDC.
“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she said Wednesday evening.
On Thursday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage said that the state had tried to cooperate with Hickox to allow for her to be quarantined at home, while still being able to take walks or go on bike rides.
“As a result of the failed effort to reach an agreement, the Governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law,” his office said in a statement.
The temporary order will continue to stay in effect until the court issues further guidance. Until then, Hickox is banned from public transportation and public spaces, such as shopping malls and theaters. She is not permitted to leave Fort Kent, without notifying public health authorities and must remain at least three feet away from others when outside her home. She must also submit to “direct active monitoring.”
According to state health commissioner, Mary Mayhew, “The surest way to minimize the public health threat is direct active monitoring and additional restrictions on movement and exposure to other persons or the public until a potentially exposed person has passed the incubation period. For Hickox, that period will extend until Nov. 10.
Unfortunately, quarantining aid workers might actually deter people from volunteering to fight Ebola overseas. This comes at a time when extra assistance is needed the most. At this time, President Obama continues to dismiss calls for quarantines and more aggressive travel restrictions.