FORT KENT, Maine (AP) — Maine health officials have asked a court to limit the movements of nurse Kaci Hickox, who defied a voluntary quarantine for medical workers who have treated Ebola patients.
Officials filed documents Thursday, following through with a threat to try to isolate her.
A judge signed a temporary order Thursday limiting Hickox’s movement until a further court order expected Friday. For now, police are monitoring Hickox and her public interactions but cannot detain her.
Hickox, who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, says confinement violates her rights. She says that she has no symptoms and poses no risk to the public.
The state is seeking to limit her travel, keep her out of public places, and require a 3-foot buffer if she comes into contact with people.
The quarantine attempt 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.
Hickox, 33, stepped into the media glare when she returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After being released from a hospital there, she returned to this small town, where she was placed under what Maine authorities called a voluntary quarantine.
She said she is following the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation of daily monitoring for fever and other signs of the disease.
“I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based,” she said Wednesday evening.
Some states like Maine are going above and beyond the CDC guidelines to require quarantines. So is the U.S military.
President Barack Obama, the nation’s top infectious-disease expert and humanitarian groups have warned that overly restrictive measures could cripple the fight against the disease at its source by discouraging volunteers like Hickox from going to West Africa, where the outbreak has sickened more than 13,000 people and killed nearly 5,000 of them.
“These kinds of restrictions could dissuade hundreds, if not thousands, of skilled volunteers from helping stop Ebola’s spread, which is in the national interest of every one of our countries,” Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Thursday in Brussels.