Nurse Kaci Hickox’s 15 minutes of fame came to an abrupt, albeit temporary, halt Thursday when a court granted Maine health officials an order restricting her movement for 24 hours. This came after she had repeatedly flaunted her refusal to comply with the state-mandated quarantine of workers treating Ebola patients.
Hickox first came to public attention as a result of her loud and repeated complaints to media after being subjected to a mandatory 21-day quarantine imposed by the state of New Jersey after her flight from Sierra Leone, where she had treated Ebola patients.
Both New Jersey and New York implemented a mandatory quarantine after a New York physician was diagnosed with Ebola after having agreed to self-monitor and avoid public places for three weeks. Instead he went jogging, bowling, dined at restaurants and rode on public transportation.
After receiving continued pressure from the White House, New Jersey eventually let Hickox travel to her home state of Maine. Health officials there imposed restrictions on her during Ebola’s 21-day incubation period. Instead she stepped outside her residence to talk to reporters and went bicycle riding with her boyfriend.
The Associated Press reported:
The state went to court Thursday, following through with a threat to try to impose restrictions on her until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola ends on Nov. 10. In court documents, the judge indicated further action was anticipated Friday.
The legal action is shaping up as the nation’s biggest test case yet in the struggle to balance public health and fear of Ebola against personal freedom.
In a court filing, the director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention backed away from the state’s original request for an in-home quarantine and called for restrictions that fall in line with federal guidelines.
“It is my opinion that the respondent [Hickox] should be subjected to an appropriate public health order for mandatory direct active monitoring and restrictions on movement as soon as possible and until the end of the incubation period … to protect the public health and safety,” Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of Maine CDC wrote.
Hickox has repeatedly disagreed.
“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she said Wednesday evening, according to the AP.
This statement, as well as her bicycle excursion, prompted this tweet:
— Victor Nikki (@hapkidobigdad) October 31, 2014
The 21-day incubation period is certainly “science-based.” There’s even evidence indicating that it should be extended to 42 days.
Although her service to patients in Ebola-stricken countries should be commended, it’s no excuse to put others at risk, no matter how small that possibility may be. Her actions are selfish, irresponsible, and self-promoting.