October 29th, 2014
11:17 PM ET

Attorney for Nurse Kaci Hickox on quarantine order: It's all political, driven by fear

Kaci Hickox, the nurse who recently returned from fighting Ebola in West Africa is now in the middle of a different fight in Maine. Governor Paul LePage says Hickox has been unwilling to follow CDC guidelines, even though those federal guidelines actually say she should not be quarantined. The state is seeking a court-order confining her to home.

"It is not my intentions to put anyone at risk in this community," Hickox told reporters outside her home in Fort Kent, Maine.

In an interview with Anderson, Hickox's lawyer, Steve Hyman says LePage is pandering to fear.

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Filed under: Ebola
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  1. iowacityia

    P.S. Dr. Spencer, I just read, lied to authorities about his travels around New York City during his supposed self-imposed quarantine. By tracing his credit card purchases and Metrocard use, detectives established that he was lying about quantining himself. Confronted with his lies, Spencer admitted the truth. These guys are unbelievable; maybe Spencer should be liable for the losses he's caused the small businesses he's destroying. Given such arrogance by Spencer, Hickox, and NBC's "Dr. Nancy," there's no justification for opposing mandatory quarantines.

    October 30, 2014 at 6:30 am |
  2. iowacityia

    Dear Anderson,

    I admire your program and your approach to and respect for your interviewees tremendously. I'd like to add my comments about why I don't agree that Kaci Hickox's rights are being violated by requiring her to stay in her home during a 21-day quarantine.

    While we are overwhelmingly grateful to her and other medical personnel for putting their own lives at risk to fight Ebola in Africa, I believe it makes eminent good sense for returning personnel like her to be quarantined (with all expenses paid, including wages) at home for a 21-day period, for these reasons:

    No one can predict if Ms. Hickox is going to develop symptoms–look at Dr. Craig Spencer.

    1. There is no scientific way to be sure that any particular worker who has been in close contact with Ebola patients will not develop the disease. Dr. Craig Spencer, an emergency room physician no less, who we assume observed all the correct protocols and protections during his short stay in Africa, now has Ebola. In spite of all his training and experience, nevertheless he developed this deadly disease.

    It is entirely possible that Ms. Hickox could also come down with Ebola. It takes supreme arrogance, regardless of what she thinks she knows, for Ms. Hickox to assume she can't develop Ebola over the next two to three weeks.

    2. Also, some people who develop Ebola do not show fevers. There can be a continuum between the development of mild symptoms and those severe enough to show up on a blood test. Also, how could one claim that "the science" unequivocally proves Dr. Spencer was not contagious before he developed a fever? At what point during the progression of his disease can it be established with any precision exactly when he became contagious? That Dr. Spencer felt fine when he first returned to New York exposes the claims by Ms. Hickox and her lawyer, Steven Hyman, that because to date she has tested negative, she poses no risk to others. And that if she develops the disease, she will know the exact moment she becomes contagious.

    3. During the days before he showed symptoms, when the virus was proliferating in his body but had not yet reached the point that he tested positive, Dr. Spencer traveled widely throughout New York City. Whether he contaminated anyone is as yet unknown. It appears that by the time the diagnosis is definitive, the patient has already been contagious–for how long, no one knows. Also, different people have different vulnerabilities–for example, those with compromised immune systems. It is not acceptable to allow even such a heroic doctor as Dr. Spencer to risk spreading the virus.

    4. In addition to possibly infecting others, Dr. Spencer may well have bankrupted or at minimum seriously harmed the small businesses he visited because of the rational or irrational fears of the public. For example, the bridal shop in Cleveland that had to close because of Amber Vinson's visit has been seriously harmed financially by Ms. Vinson exercising what Ms. Hickox would call her "rights." I do not know if the shop has reopened or the extent of its financial losses, but that it has been harmed, possibly irrevocably is undisputed. And with recent studies reporting that the virus can survive 50 days under the right conditions, I cannot fault anyone who wants to limit their potential exposure to one of the most dangerous pathogens in the world.

    5. The greatest minds in any field recognize just how much they do not know. Hickox and Hyman, in contrast, have no such humility. What would they say if Ms. Hickox were to cause someone to contract Ebola? Oops?

    6. Also, there have been many mistakes, at every level, along the way since Thomas Eric Duncan first visited the emergency room in in Dallas. There is no justification for risking even one more infection, especially because we have no guarantee that every American who develops Ebola will survive. So far, the patients who have survived (I believe Mr. Spencer is considered stable) do not constitute a large enough sample to be able to state with 100 percent certainty that all future patients will be so fortunate.

    I agree, Ms. Hickox was treated abominably by New Jersey, but a humane, respectful, and grateful approach including home quarantine at full pay is not a violation of anyone's rights, whether legal or otherwise. Considering what is still unknown about Ebola, I believe it's the only reasonable thing to do.

    Thank you very much.

    A concerned New Yorker

    October 30, 2014 at 1:36 am |

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