New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that a nurse being quarantined for Ebola despite testing negative for the disease can complete her isolation period at home in Maine, reversing course after his mandated quarantine drew criticism from health officials and a legal threat from the nurse.
Kaci Hickox was being discharged Monday morning, the New Jersey Department of Health said.
“Since testing negative for Ebola on early Saturday morning, the patient being monitored in isolation at University Hospital in Newark has thankfully been symptom free for the last 24 hours,” the department said in a statement. “As a result, and after being evaluated in coordination with the CDC and the treating clinicians at University Hospital, the patient is being discharged.
“Since the patient had direct exposure to individuals suffering from the Ebola Virus in one of the three West African nations, she is subject to a mandatory New Jersey quarantine order,” the department added. “After consulting with her, she has requested transport to Maine, and that transport will be arranged via a private carrier not via mass transit or commercial aircraft. She will remain subject to New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine order while in New Jersey. Health officials in Maine have been notified of her arrangements and will make a determination under their own laws on her treatment when she arrives.”
Hickox had been confined to a tent outside a New Jersey hospital for the past three days, after she returned from a trip to west Africa where she treated Ebola patients. Hickox publicly condemned the state for holding her under conditions that she described as inhumane. She also singled out Christie for blame for overstating her status as “obviously ill” when she had no fever-like symptoms upon landing, and her lawyer threatened to sue.
Christie defended his actions Monday.
“The fact of the matter is we’re going to protect the people of our state,” he told reporters in a video posted to YouTube by his office. “…I’m not going to step away for a minute from protecting the people of my state and our region. So I understand that she didn’t want to be there. She made that very clear from the beginning but my obligation is to all the people of New Jersey and we’re just going to continue to do that. So the critics are the critics no matter what you do there will be critics and you don’t worry that, you worry about doing what’s right for the people you represent and that’s what we’ve done.”