First, she fought against her quarantine in New Jersey, claiming it violated her civil rights. Now nurse/liberal activist Kaci Hickox is fighting against a demand on the part of Maine health officials that she remain under quarantine in her home for 21 days.
According to the Bangor Daily News, the nurse, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone and was isolated against her will upon her return to the U.S., claims she is healthy and will travel about freely.
Hickox, who made something of a public spectacle of her mandatory qurantine in a tent outside University Hospital in Newark last week, has retained legal counsel. Her attorney, Steven Hyman of the New York law firm McLaughlin & Stern, told the paper, “She doesn’t want to agree to continue to be confined to a residence beyond the two days,”
Local officials in Fort Kent, where Hickox lives with her boyfriend, said Tuesday that she was not heading back to town right away. On Tuesday morning, vehicles from about a dozen national and state media outlets lined the road near the house in town, though no one appeared to be home.
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.
A video of the news conference appears below:
Hickox is also being represented by another attorney, the high-profile New York civil rights lawyer Norman Siegel, who said his client would contest any potential court order requiring her quarantine at home. Siegel added:
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.
Hickox did agree abide by daily monitoring, as recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the CDC’s guidelines serve only as recommendations. States have leeway to develop their own protocols.
The Obama administration has weighed in on statewide quarantines, expressing its disapproval of the policy and urging states to reconsider.