© 2024 Michigan State University Board of Trustees
Public Media from Michigan State University
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
TECHNOTE: 90.5 FM and AM870 reception

Nurse Kaci Hickox Takes A Bike Ride, Defying Maine's Quarantine


The debate over quarantines in this country came down to this image today - a nurse riding her bike with reporters chasing after her. The nurse, Kaci Hickox, treated Ebola patients in West Africa. Her home state of Maine wants her to voluntarily quarantine herself, and she says, that's not necessary because she's not sick. Now Governor Paul LePage says, he'll exercise his authority under the law, though he's not saying exactly what he'll do. Here's NPR's Jeff Brady.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: Even before the announcement that negotiations between the state of Maine and nurse Kaci Hickox had broken down, she was openly defying the state's request that she quarantine herself voluntarily.


KACI HICKOX: There's no legal action against me, so I'm free to go on a bike ride in my hometown.

BRADY: Hickox says, she and her boyfriend went for a ride in part to avoid the journalists outside her home in rural northern Maine.


HICKOX: My partner and I have been riding this trail since we got here. And we knew it was the only way we could get away from you guys for a little bit.

BRADY: Hickox treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone. When she returned from West Africa, New Jersey placed her under mandatory quarantine when an exam showed she had a slightly elevated temperature. Later, when an Ebola test came back negative, and it was clear she was not ill, Hickox was released and allowed to go home to Maine. Since then, Maine officials have been negotiating with Hickox, but now Governor Paul LePage says, those negotiations have broken down.


PAGE LEPAGE: I am going to use the legal provisions to the fullest extent that the law allows me.

BRADY: Speaking on television station WCSH, LePage says, he wants Hickox to stay more than three feet away from anyone else for the 21-day incubation period. His office says, under CDC guidelines for people in Hickox's risk of exposure category, activities like walks, runs and bike rides may be OK, but going to public places and being in close contact with others is not. Maine doesn't yet have the necessary court order to quarantine Hickox, but LePage says, a state police trooper is posted outside her home to keep her safe.


LEPAGE: Because the last thing I want is for her to get hurt. But at the same token, her behavior is really riling a lot of people up. And, you know, I can only do what I can do. And we're trying to protect her, but she's not acting as smart as she probably should.

BRADY: Neither Kaci Hickox nor her attorneys responded to NPR's request for an interview. Speaking earlier this week on NBC Television, Hickox said, she believes the state has no authority to restrict her movements because she's not ill.


HICKOX: I truly believe that this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just. And so I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public.

BRADY: Hickox has said, she's monitoring herself - taking her temperature twice a day - and that she feels fine. Public health officials say, an infected person must be showing symptoms, such as vomiting or diarrhea, to spread the virus. Hickox argues that if she's not infectious, she shouldn't have to be under a quarantine. But Governor LePage says, he has to weigh the inconvenience of a quarantine to one person against the public health and safety of his entire state. Now that efforts to reach a compromise have failed, it could be up to a judge to decide which argument is right. Jeff Brady, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.
To help strengthen our local reporting as WKAR's fiscal year ends, we need 75 new or upgraded sustainers by June 30th. Become a new monthly donor or increase your donation to support the trustworthy journalism you'll rely on before Election Day. Donate now.