Nurse Kaci Hickox, who had been subject to an involuntary quarantine after returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa, can now travel unrestricted after a Maine judge rejected the state’s bid to limit her movements, MSNBC’s Ronan Farrow reported just moments ago.
Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere said on Friday that Hickox must continue daily monitoring and coordinate travel with state officials so monitoring can continue. But the judge said there’s no need for further restrictions because she’s not infectious.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage said it’s “unfortunate” that restrictions were eased, but said the state will follow the law. The state sought to impose restrictions until Hickox’s 21-day incubation period for Ebola ends on Nov. 10.
In his ruling, the judge thanked Hickox for her service in Africa and wrote that “people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational.”
Leading medical officials have also condemned such restrictions, warning that they could prevent aid workers from going to the Ebola-stricken countries to help, which could ultimately raise the public health threat back at home. The president of the World Bank has said the region needs at least 5,000 more such workers.
In an impassioned speech on Wednesday, President Obama said in a thinly veiled reference to the quarantines, “If we’re discouraging our health care workers who are prepared to make these sacrifices from traveling to these places in need, then we’re not doing our job in terms of looking after our own health and safety.”