WTVM 11/2/14 Editorial: Public safety precedes personal comfort in potential Ebola cases

WTVM 11/2/14 Editorial: Public safety precedes personal comfort in potential Ebola cases

(WTVM) - The nurse Kaci Hickox is enjoying more than the usual 15 minutes of fame for defying government attempts to quarantine her after she returned from treating Ebola patients in West Africa.

Hickox says science doesn't support keeping her at home for 21 days to see if she finally exhibits the symptoms of the disease.

So she has decided to do her own thing - like riding her bike with her boyfriend for instance, and saying she might go to the grocery store.

She claims it's her constitutional right not to be quarantined if she is not sick. But Maine state health officials think Hickox's original Ebola test was administered too soon because it takes 21 days to know for sure if someone exposed to the virus is contagious.

The governor's office admitted they have essentially negotiated with Hickox on how she will be monitored.

Maine says they will look at each case on a case-by-case basis.

The rules for patients seem to be elastic depending on the situation, and that is what upsets the public.

Hickox's pushback -- first against New Jersey's quarantine and now Maine's rules -- is ultimately a selfish act.

Perhaps she will never develop Ebola symptoms - we hope she doesn't. But as more medical volunteers in West Africa come home, this kind of drama threatens states' abilities to isolate potentially dangerous patients during the 21-day period when they can become very sick.

Tracking the activities of people like Hickox is time consuming and an expensive burden on taxpayers.

It's not too much to ask for Hickox to do the right thing and stay at home until the 21 days have elapsed.

Instead, she is setting a precedent that just adds to the continuing confusion about Ebola and how to contain it.


General Manager Holly Steuart brings two editorials a week to WTVM. If you would like to respond to an editorial, e-mail your response to WTVM Editorial Committee or write to:

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