A judge in Maine rejected the state’s attempt to forcibly quarantine a nurse who has been clashing with officials over her defiance of a voluntary Ebola quarantine on Friday, reversing a court order that briefly mandated she avoid public places and transportation. The nurse still must continue daily temperature monitoring and approve travel with state officials, the judge ordered.
The order came Friday following a temporary order Thursday. The state has been pushing the nurse, Kaci Hickox, to follow quarantine guidelines laid out by federal officials for people at “some risk” of Ebola.
“I’m humbled today by the judge’s decision and even more humbled by the support that we have received from the town, the state of Maine, across the U.S. and even across the globe,” Hickox told reporters. “I know that Ebola is a scary disease. I have seen it face to face. I know that we are nowhere near winning this battle. We’ll only win this battle as we continue this discussion, as we gain a better collective understanding about Ebola and public health, as we overcome the fear and most importantly as we end the outbreak that is still ongoing in West Africa today.”
Maine Gov. Paul LePage described the decision as “unfortunate,” but promised to enforce it.
Hickox, who recently returned from West Africa to Ebola patients suffering from the outbreak that has killed almost 5,000 people, went for a bike ride with her boyfriend Thursday in defiance of Maine’s voluntary quarantine guidelines. District Court Chief Judge Charles LaVerdiere cared for Ebola patients “generously, kindly and with compassion,” CNN reports. “We owe her and all professionals who give of themselves in this way a debt of gratitude,” he wrote in his decision.
Hickox has not shown any symptoms and has tested negative for the disease, which has a 21-day incubation period. She was fiercely critical of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie when she was first quarantined on a state order there before being allowed to return home to Maine, calling it a violation of her human rights. Health advocates have criticized quarantine measures put in place as putting fear over science and potentially hampering efforts to contain the outbreak in West Africa by making it harder for health workers to travel to and from the region.
“I’m fighting for something much more than myself,” Hickox said this week. “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.”