A Maine judge on Friday issued a temporary order enforcing a quarantine against a nurse who defied an Ebola quarantine in a tense standoff with state authorities. District Court Chief Judge Charles LaVerdiere ordered nurse Kaci Hickox, who recently returned to the United States after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, to submit to “direct active monitoring” and “not to be present in public places” except to receive necessary health care. The order permits her to engage in “non-congregate public activities” such as walking or jogging but said she must maintain a 3-foot distance from people.
[Previous story, posted at 3:09 a.m. ET]
The boyfriend of a Maine nurse who defied an Ebola quarantine is speaking out, saying that isolating returnees from West Africa will affect their partners as well.
Nurse Kaci Hickox recently returned to the United States after treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She’s been in a tense standoff with state authorities, who want her to stay home for 21 days — the incubation period for the deadly virus.
Hickox says she is healthy and has no symptoms and forcing her to stay home is unconstitutional.
Her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, says significant others are affected too.
“This thing doesn’t just affect Kaci,” he told CNN affiliate WCHS. “And when people are going to be coming home from different parts of the world and West Africa, it’s just not affecting the aid workers and what not. It’s affecting their partners.”
‘We’re not trying to push any limits’
The two went out on a bike ride Thursday, trailed by a police cruiser and journalists.
“If anyone in the community might have noticed, we went bicycling that way. We did not go into town,” he told the affiliate.
Wilbur said they are not trying to cause trouble and want the community to feel at ease.
“We did not go into the grocery store. We are not trying to get anyone sick,” he said. “We don’t believe that we can get anyone sick. We’re not trying to push any limits here. We’re members of this community too, and we want to make everyone feel comfortable.”
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said negotiations with Hickox had failed, adding that he would “exercise the full extent” of his authority “allowable by law” to keep her away from public places.
“I don’t want her within 3 feet of anybody,” LePage told the affiliate.
Hickox’s quarantine is scheduled to end on November 10.
Governor: She is ‘not acting as smart’
The governor said venturing away from her house jeopardizes her safety.
“The reason there’s a police car there when she does that is to protect her, more than anybody. ‘Cause the last thing I want is for her to get hurt,” he said. “But at the same token, her behavior is really riling a lot of people up, and I can only do what I can do. And we’re trying to protect her, but she’s not acting as smart as she probably should.”
The state has made it clear it’s going to do something. But its hands are tied.
“The first thing the governor has to do, which he has not yet done, is get a court order which requires her to stay in quarantine,” CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin said. “There is no court order now. She’s not violating anything by taking a bike ride or leaving her house.”
There’s no guarantee the governor will be able to get a court order, Toobin said, because science does not consider her in a communicable situation.
Halfway through incubation period
It’s unclear what the exact sticking points are between the two sides.
At first, Maine officials said they wanted her to remain at home for 21 days. Since then, they’ve said they want Hickox — who has twice tested negative for Ebola and says she feels healthy — to avoid public places during that time.
Making a point with bike ride
Hickox has said state officials are the ones being unreasonable. She contends the U.S. Constitution and science are on her side.
“I’m fighting for something much more than myself,” she said. “There are so many aid workers coming back. It scares me to think how they’re going to be treated and how they’re going to feel.”
Hickox has said she’s willing to compromise with the state, and she’s open to restrictions barring her from public transportation and limiting her to Fort Kent, a town of 4,000 on the Canadian border.
Her attorney, Norm Siegel, said the couple went for the bike ride to highlight that she could be out in public without interacting with people.
New Jersey incident
When she returned from a month working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone last week, Hickox had an elevated temperature at an airport in Newark, New Jersey, officials said. She was put into an isolation tent.
She blasted New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for enforcing a new policy that required anyone showing symptoms of Ebola, including an elevated temperature, to be isolated.