Politicians and some state health officials, who should be ashamed, continue to fan public fear about Ebola and how it is spread. In a shockingly factless press conference, Maine’s Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew threatened to forcefully quarantine all health care workers who don’t voluntarily quarantine themselves at home and submit to monitoring by DHHS.
Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew declined during a news conference to comment specifically on the case of nurse Kaci Hickox, who was confined against her will at a New Jersey hospital before traveling home to Maine. But Mayhew said her department and the attorney general’s office were prepared to take legal steps to enforce a quarantine if someone declines to cooperate.
“We do not want to have to legally enforce in-home quarantine,” she said. “We’re confident that selfless health workers who were brave enough to care for Ebola patients in a foreign country will be willing to take reasonable steps to protect residents of their own country. However we are willing to pursue legal authority if necessary to ensure risk is minimized for Mainers.”
Mechanically reading from a prepared statement, she continued babbling misinformation about Dr. Craig Spenser, who is hospitalized with Ebola in New York City, and how Ebola is spread. A former lobbyist, Ms. Mayhew has no medical background.
The state would need a court order and that might be not so easily obtained, since Ms. Hickox is symptom free and has twice tested negative for the Ebola virus. At an impromptu press conference on her front porch, Ms, Hickox said that she would not be “bullied” by politicians and plans to fight the state’s attempt to confine her to her home until November 10,
Norman Siegel, a prominent civil rights lawyer who is representing Ms. Hickox, said that “in our view she is not restricted to do anything.”
Ms. Hickox’s defiance put the focus for the next few days on one of the most remote reaches of the country, Fort Kent, a town on the Canadian border where she shares a home with her boyfriend. If detained by officials, she will have three days to seek a court order to challenge the quarantine.
Ms. Hickox said that the stigmatization of health workers had “exploded” across the country. She warned that quarantines would ultimately lead to families’ being shuttered in their homes and would deter aid workers from going to West Africa to help treat Ebola at its origin.
The question for the court is how constitutional is it to force quarantine on a healthy person who according to all science, is not contagious for the Ebola virus?
MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell, host of “The Last Word,” spoke with Mr. Seigel about the case
Sophie Delaunay, Executive Director of Doctors Without Borders, joined “All In” host Chris Hayes to explain why these policies are counterproductive
This quarantine is pure political grandstanding. You CANNOT contract Ebola from an asymptomatic person. The only way to become infected is DIRECT contact with the body fluids of a person who is sick.
The people who are putting their lives on the line in West Africa to stem the epidemic there should not be stigmatized by ignorant, ambitious fools.