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Maine To Enforce Quarantine For Nurse Who Worked In West Africa

A photo taken Sunday of Kaci Hickox in an isolation tent at University Hospital in Newark, N.J. Hickox, who was later discharged and allowed to return to her home in Maine, says she has no intention of abiding by a "voluntary" quarantine there.
Steven Hyman
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

Maine's Gov. Paul LePage says he will seek to legally force a nurse to undergo a 21-day quarantine after her return from West Africa, where she volunteered to treat Ebola patients.

In a back-and-forth battle over the quarantine issue, Kaci Hickox was first forced into isolation upon her arrival in New Jersey over the weekend despite showing no symptoms of Ebola. After she blasted New Jersey officials for confining her, she was discharged earlier this week and allowed to return home to Maine. There she has refused to participate in a voluntary quarantine.

Speaking on NBC's Today show and ABC's Good Morning America, Hickox said bluntly: "I don't plan on sticking to the guidelines."

Instead, she's hired a lawyer, who was quoted by The Associated Press as saying his client isn't willing to cooperate with state officials unless they lift "all or most of the restrictions."

That prompted this statement from the LePage's office: "Upon learning the healthcare worker intends to defy the protocols, the Office of the Governor has been working collaboratively with the State health officials within the Department of Health and Human Services to seek legal authority to enforce the quarantine."

Hickox, who volunteered for the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders in Ebola-stricken Sierra Leone, showed no signs of the disease on her return to the U.S.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were sharply criticized for ordering mandatory quarantines.

The AP says: "Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew says Maine's policies go above and beyond federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, which require monitoring but not quarantine. She says she'll 'pursue legal authority' for anyone violating the voluntary in-home quarantine."

Meanwhile, World Health Organization Assistant Director General Bruce Aylward says the organization is seeing a decline in the spread of the deadly virus in worst-hit Liberia and that he's confident health officials are getting the upper hand.

Aylward says he's cautiously optimistic that the rate of cases is slowing and, that if trends continue, WHO should "comfortably" meet its deadline of early December for putting Ebola containment measures in place, according to Reuters.

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Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.