Kaci Hickox is going to do what she wants, health officials be damned.
Kaci Hickox is back home in Maine. But she’s as defiant as ever:
Kaci Hickox, the nurse who was quarantined at a New Jersey hospital despite exhibiting no Ebola symptoms after arriving from West Africa, won’t follow the quarantine imposed by Maine officials, her attorney said tonight.
“Going forward she does not intend to abide by the quarantine imposed by Maine officials because she is not a risk to others,” her attorney Steven Hyman said. “She is asymptomatic and under all the protocols cannot be deemed a medical risk of being contagious to anyone.”
Hickox will abide by all the self-monitoring requirements of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state of Maine, Hyman said.
But I wonder how many people in Fort Kent, Maine are going to be eager to attend her “Welcome home, Kaci” party?
Now that Christie has washed his hands (metaphorically speaking) of Hickox—which is beginning to look more and more like a savvy decision—what will LePage of Maine do? Treat her with kid gloves, perhaps:
Maine requires that health care workers such as Hickox who return to the state from West Africa will remain under a 21-day home quarantine, with their condition actively monitored, Gov. Paul R. LePage said in a statement.
“We will help make sure the health care worker has everything to make this time as comfortable as possible,” he said.
The comments to the linked article are uniformly angry. Typical is this: “She makes it REALLY easy to hate her.” And that’s among the nicer ones.
From some of the statements in this article, however, it sounds like Maine may be ready for a legal battle with Hickox:
Early Tuesday evening, Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew noted at a hastily called news conference that the state has the authority to seek a court order to compel quarantine for individuals deemed a public health risk.
Meanwhile, Connecticut has eight people already under forced quarantine, and we haven’t heard anywhere near as much about them:
Under guidelines issued by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy, anyone returning to the state from Guinea, Liberia, or Sierra Leone is subject to mandatory health monitoring and may be placed under involuntary quarantine if the commissioner of the state’s health department determines they “have met the threshold for such action.”
One of them, however, is speaking up:
“I’m outraged and very upset about the impact that this policy and the subsequent policies in other states will have on the actual fight to contain Ebola in West Africa,” Boyko, a Ph.D candidate in the School of Public Health’s epidemiology of microbial diseases department, told the Hartford Courant.
We rubes just don’t understand everything there is to understand about ebola, unlike Boyko, who must know exactly how and when every single case of ebola in Africa was contracted, and that there is absolutely no chance whatsoever of someone catching it from someone in a relatively early stage of the disease, with mild symptoms and a fever. Note also his words “the actual fight to contain ebola in West Africa.” As opposed to what—the fake fight to contain it here, the one that states such as Connecticut are putting up? The one that restricts his freedom for three weeks?
Boyko’s story is in some ways even more interesting than Hickox’s. When he was in Liberia he did not treat ebola patients (he’s neither an M.D. nor a nurse); he worked at a computer. But he had a meeting with Ashoka Mukpo, the NBC freelance cameraman who came down with the disease, the evening before Mukpo was diagnosed. After returning to the states he was not originally told to stay in quarantine [emphasis mine]:
Boyko said his plan was to lay low the first week back, not return to school, and rest. He didn’t do much — once he drove around in a car with his girlfriend to look at the foliage — but a few days later on Oct. 15 he developed a low fever and diarrhea.
He called doctors to tell them about his symptoms and said he wanted to wait until the next day before going into the hospital. He was convinced he couldn’t have Ebola. The disease is not transmitted through the air — it is only transmitted through bodily fluids — and it is only transmitted by people who are symptomatic. Boyko was certain his brief visit with Mukpo, who had no symptoms, could not have made him ill.
But the Yale doctors decided he should come in immediately. Boyko called his mother in St. Louis to tell her he was going to the hospital, but that he was sure he didn’t have Ebola.
That has turned out to almost certainly be correct. But what was all this initial certainty about, in the face of exposure to ebola, and symptoms? That was really playing with fire.
The way Hickox and Boyko are talking, a person could be forgiven for wondering whether these two would be willing to comply with a voluntary quarantine or even voluntary self-monitoring, and that doubt hurts their cause. But their arrogance, and their lack of respect for the very human desire to protect our communities from a scourge such as ebola, come through loud and clear.
[Neo-neocon is a writer with degrees in law and family therapy, who blogs at neo-neocon.]DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.