New Jersey governor Chris Christie defended his decision to release Kaci Hickox from mandatory Ebola quarantine at a New Jersey hospital after her return from West Africa, dismissing critics who say he caved on his initial intention to keep the nurse in isolation for a full 21 days.
Having just returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, Hickox was placed in a hospital tent after registering a fever at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday. Held against her will, Hickox called the treatment “inhumane” and threatened to sue the state.
The Republican governor rejected that criticism during an interview on Fox New Sunday, appearing to indicate that Hickox would be detained in New Jersey until 21 days had passed. But Christie released the nurse on Monday, prompting many observers to believe the governor reversed his initial quarantine policy due to political pressure.
Christie pushed back against those assertions, saying that New Jersey would provide Hickox secure transportation back to Maine and that Maine state officials would take over administering any quarantine from there. “I didn’t reverse any decision,” he told a reporter. “Why are you saying I reversed a decision?”
“If she was continuing to be ill she would have to stay,” he explained. “She hadn’t had any symptoms in 24 hours, and she tested negative for Ebola. So there was no reason to keep her.”