One day after defending his decision to quarantine an American health worker at a New Jersey hospital after her return from Ebola-stricken West Africa, Governor Chris Christie is now allowing the nurse to return to her home in Maine.
Kaci Hickox was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport after arriving from Sierra Leone with a fever on Friday, the same day the Republican governor and his New York counterpart enacted mandatory 21-day quarantines for medical workers returning from West Africa. Held against her will in an isolation tent without a shower or television, Hickox called her treatment “inhumane” and threatened to sue the state.
The White House cautiously expressed their disapproval of the policy, prompting New York’s Democratic governor Andrew Cuomo to reverse his decision and allow returning workers to “self-quarantine.”
Christie stood firm on Sunday. “I don’t believe when you’re dealing with something as serious as this that we can count on a voluntary system,” he told Fox News’s Chris Wallace. “This is government’s job.”
But on Monday the governor’s office released a statement explaining that Hickox will be returned to Maine by a private carrier – though she will remain under mandatory quarantine until she leaves New Jersey. “Health officials in Maine have been notified of her arrangements and will make a determination under their own laws on her treatment when she arrives,” the statement added.
The governor later explained the decision to release Hickox was taken after the nurse was symptom-free for at least 24 hours.