ABC News(FORT KENT, Maine) — A nurse who returned from fighting Ebola in West Africa challenged the demands that she remain quarantined by leaving her home Thursday morning for a bike ride with her boyfriend.
Kaci Hickox, 33, went on the bike ride with her boyfriend in Fort Kent, Maine, after vowing last night she wasn’t willing to “stand here and have my civil rights violated.” State officials said they were preparing to file a court order to enforce a mandatory quarantine, but it would first have to be approved by a judge.
Hickox was treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone for Doctors Without Borders. She returned to the United States on Friday, landing in Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, where she was questioned and quarantined in an outdoor tent through the weekend despite having no symptoms of the lethal virus.
Hickox registered a fever on an infrared thermometer at the airport, but an oral thermometer at University Hospital in Newark showed that she had no fever, she said.
After twice testing negative for the Ebola, Hickox was released and returned home to Maine on Monday. Maine’s health commissioner announced that Maine would join the handful of states going beyond federal guidelines and asking that returning Ebola health workers be self-quarantined for 21 days.
“Our true desire is for a voluntary separation from the public. We do not want to have to legally enforce an in-home quarantine,” Maine Health Commissioner Mary Mayhew said in a statement. “We are confident that the 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 the residents of their own country. However, we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”
Hickox said she doesn’t think it is reasonable.
“I will go to court to attain my freedom,” Hickox told Good Morning America Wednesday via Skype from her hometown of Fort Kent. “I have been completely asymptomatic since I’ve been here. I feel absolutely great.”
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention doesn’t consider health workers who treated Ebola patients in West Africa to be at “high risk” for catching Ebola if they were wearing protective gear, according to new guidelines announced this week. Since they have “some risk,” the CDC recommends that they undergo monitoring — tracking symptoms and body temperature twice a day — avoid public transportation and take other precautions. But the CDC doesn’t require home quarantines for these workers.
Someone isn’t contagious until Ebola symptoms appear, according to the CDC. And even then, transmission requires contact with bodily fluids such as blood and vomit.
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