Maine Nurse Kaci Hickox Faces Possible Charges After Refusing Ebola Quarantine

( [email protected] ) Oct 29, 2014 03:06 PM EDT
Kaci Hickox
Kaci Hickox

The latest nurse exposed to the Ebola virus in West Africa has refused doctor's order to isolate herself at her Maine home.

The nurse, Kaci Hickox, was already kept in an isolation tent in New Jersey this weekend as a precaution after returning from aid work in West Africa's Sierra Leone. She claims that the conditions of her quarantine were unsatisfactory and her treatment caused her to file a lawsuit against New Jersey governor Chris Christie on Saturday. The governor backed down and allowed her to return to her Maine home, but health officials still advised the woman to voluntarily quarantine herself for the recommended 21 days after exposure to Ebola.

Hickox has tested negative for the virus twice, but officials aren't giving up.

"We hoped that the healthcare worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols," Maine's Governor Paul LePage said on Wednesday. "We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community."

Hickox appeared on the Today Show early Wednesday morning to give her own side of the story. "I'm not going to sit around and be bullied around by politicians and be forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public," she told NBC's Matt Lauer during the show.

Although the aid worker has resited any mandatory seclusion, she admits that she has voluntarily isolated herself and has been conducting self-monitoring procedures on herself since returning to her Maine home and doesn't plan to go out into public anyway. It's just the 21-day isolation that she has a problem with.

"I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me," she said during the interview. She contests that she is still completely sympton-free and in good health.

Gov. LePage stated that he was working with health officials to determine the next legal step and see what their options were with enforcing the quarantine. NBC reports that a Maine state trooper was parked outside of Hickox's Fort Kent home on Wednesday.

The nurse's lawyer, New York civil rights attorney Normal Siegel, has stated that any attempt to arrest or detain Hickox would be met with a challenge in court. "The conditions that the state of Maine is now requiring Kaci to comply with are unconstitutional and illegal and there is no justification for the state of Maine to infringe on her liberty," Siegel told the Bangor Daily News.

Although the nurse has tested negative for Ebola twice already, CDC director Sheila Pinette says that may not mean anything at this point. "We believe that she may have been tested too early," Pinette said during a press conference. "That is the reason why we continue to monitor this individual. So I have to say, in my own clinical opinion, to protect the health and safety of even one Mainer, it is extremely important for us to be very, very cautious."