Nurse Kaci Hickox will not comply with the full 21-day, in-home Ebola quarantine imposed by Maine health officials, her lawyer Steve Hyman said Tuesday. Hickox agreed not to go out in public for two days, but will not agree to further isolation.
“She doesn’t want to agree to continue to be confined to a residence beyond the two days,” Steven Hyman of New York law firm McLaughlin & Stern told the Bangor Daily News. Hickox never tested positive for Ebola and remained symptom-free after her release Monday from a similar mandatory quarantine in a tent behind a New Jersey hospital.
Authorities in Maine could seek to impose a court order on Hickox if she refuses to abide by the terms of the quarantine, state health and human services commissioner Mary Mayhew said at a Tuesday press conference. “We do not want to have to legally enforce in-home quarantine,” she said. “We’re confident that selfless health workers who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect residents of their own country. However, we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”
Hyman denied Tuesday that Hickox is currently under quarantine. “She is seeking privacy and a little time to decompress. She is not in quarantine,” he told the Associated Press.
Hickox, who works for Doctors Without Borders, was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport on Oct. 24 after a stint treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. She was placed in isolation in accordance with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s policy that all medical personnel exposed to the Ebola virus in West Africa would be subject to mandatory quarantine. The 21-day period corresponds with Ebola’s maximum incubation period.
The New Jersey Department of Health said tests revealed Hickox had a fever when she was placed in isolation. She asserts that she never had a fever and that her face was flushed due to outrage at the way she was treated. Hickox claims she was held against her will in a tent without proper garments or care.
Hickox was discharged from the New Jersey quarantine after she was declared symptom-free by the CDC and hospital doctors. She was provided with private transport back to Maine, her home state.