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Lawsuit Could Shake Maine’s Quarantine Laws
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Nurse threatens to sue Maine over enforced quarentine

Summary: A nurse in Maine hopes to loosen state quarantine laws with lawsuit against Maine.

How far can state laws go when putting United States citizens into quarantine? With the outbreak of Ebola concerns, one nurse is testing just that. Nurse Kaci Hickox is suing the State of Maine, as of Wednesday, for being quarantined against her will. She returned from Sierra Leone last Friday after treating Ebola patients for a month, and after showing signs of a low-grade fever, but a negative test for Ebola, she was state ordered to remain in her home for 21 days, the incubation period of the virus.

  
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“This is a tipping point in this whole process,” she said in an interview from her home. “So many states have started enacting these policies that I think are just completely not evidence-based. They don’t do a good job of balancing the risks and benefits when thinking about taking away an individual’s rights.”

Hickox, 33, is concerned that “it’s the medical professionals who are being stigmatized. Even if there is a popular public opinion, we still have to advocate for what’s right.”

As for the popular public opinion, CBS News ran a poll last week that found 80 percent of Americans believe health care workers should be quarantined after a visit from West Africa, even if they show no symptoms at all. This perhaps doesn’t speak well of 80 percent of Americans, but 25 percent also said that foreign visitors from West Africa should be barred completely.

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The White House agrees that such state strictures as Maine’s and California’s which go above and beyond what the Centers for Disease Control are calling for are actually going too far.

“If we are not dealing with this problem there, it will come here,” said President Obama, by way of explaining why we are working on Africa’s problem. “I know that, with all the headlines and all the news, that people are scared. America has never been defined by fear.”



America perhaps has not defined itself that way, but the human species as a whole is given to its share of hysteria, mass panic, and doomsday prophesying.

The CDC guidelines call for mere monitoring for health care workers without symptoms who have worked with Ebola patients.

Nevertheless, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dismissed the nurse’s plight with a brusque “Whatever.”

“I’ve been sued lots of times before. Get in line. I’m happy to take it on.”

Hickox retaliated to Christie’s claim that she was “obviously ill” when she said, “First of all, I don’t think he’s a doctor; secondly, he’s never laid eyes on me; and thirdly, I’ve been asymptomatic since I’ve been here,” as CNN reported.

Christie replied saying, “She had access to the Internet and we brought her takeout food… I don’t have any concerns about that,” because her claims are “malarkey.”



 

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