Kaci Hickox, a nurse who was deemed at risk for carrying the Ebola virus and quarantined in a tent in New Jersey, is refusing to comply with an additional 21-day home quarantine at her residence in Maine and vowed to fight the quarantine policy in court if necessary.
Hickox returned to the United States last week after spending five weeks caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. After arriving in New Jersey on last Friday, Hickox was isolated in a tent against her will at Newark’s University Hospital, although she tested negative for Ebola. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie defended the decision to mandate Hickox’s quarantine, saying “I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system. This is government’s job. If anything else, the government job is to protect safety and health of our citizens.”
Hickox has since returned to her home in Maine and said she will not abide by Maine’s quarantine policy, which is classified as voluntary although the state of Maine is prepared to enforce it.
Although Hickox said that she’s been exercising caution and avoiding contact with people, she has held to her reasoning that remaining in quarantine is “not scientifically nor constitutionally just.”
“You know, I don’t plan on sticking to the guidelines. I remain appalled by these home quarantine policies that have been forced upon me, even though I am in perfectly good health and feeling strong and have been this entire time completely symptom free. I’m thankful to be out of the tent in Newark, but I found myself in yet another prison, just in a different environment,” Hickox told Matt Lauer.
Lauer told Hickox about a statement from Maine’s Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, which read that the state may “pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”
Hickox maintained that “reasonable steps”, including self-monitoring measures like testing body temperature twice a day and undergoing testing upon appearance of symptoms, have been made by her and other health care workers. “These policies have worked in the past,” said Hickox.
When asked why she opposes quarantines, Hickox responded that “I truly believe this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just, and so 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.”
“Are you prepared to take legal action, not only against the state of New Jersey, but now the state of Maine if they decide to enforce this quarantine period?” asked Lauer.
“I’m not talking about New Jersey right now, but if the restrictions placed on me by the state of Maine are not lifted by Thursday morning, I will go to court to fight for my freedom,” Hickox replied.
Hickox’s attorney, Norman Seigel, added that the state of Maine has “no justification to quarantine Kaci” and echoed that they would challenge any court orders from Maine.
Judge Andrew Napolitano appeared on The Kelley File on Fox News Monday and said that it’s the responsibility of the government to prove that a person poses a public health risk. “We don’t have group guilt in America. We don’t have group punishment in America,” said Napolitano. “When the person confined challenges their confinement, the burden of proof, the obligation of demonstrating the propriety of the confinements, which is to the governments. And the government did not have any evidence with which to keep her confined once she challenged it.”
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