Ebola Nurse Kaci Hickox Needs To Lay Off The Smug And Deal With Her Quarantine

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Most of the fear mongering and nonsense about Ebola spewed on the internet is utterly ridiculous and uncalled for. However, we obviously have to take certain precautions to prevent anyone from catching this deadly disease within our own borders. This includes reasonable measures taken to keep healthcare workers who have treated Ebola patients from catching the illness or transmitting it to others. After all, the only people in America to contract it have been healthcare workers who treated Ebola patients.

However, these healthcare workers do not help their own case at all in regard to their treatment when they return to the states by ignoring quarantine recommendations and complaining about it. Nurse Kaci Hickox needs to lay off the smug and accept her quarantine, considering the fact that she returned home from treating patients in an Ebola hot zone in Africa and presented with a fever at the Newark airport. Officials had every right in the world to impose a quarantine for her, of all people.

Video of Hickox’s interview with Matt Lauer on the Today show enraged me. Her cavalier dismissal of the public’s valid concerns and her outright refusal to acknowledge the fact that her quarantine is important to protect others is infuriating. She cites a lack of organization at the Newark airport as a reason for fighting her isolation but I don’t really see what that has to do with anything. Under questioning from Lauer, she admits that she did register a fever at the airport. What the hell else were health officials supposed to do? See below for the interview- my description can’t do it justice:

Her insistence that a negative test means she should not be quarantined is kind of appalling. Although the New England Journal of Medicine published an article in support of healthcare workers like Hickox not having to quarantine themselves unless they show symptoms, they do state that Ebola will not show up in the blood right away and a negative test is by no means a guarantee that a patient will not later test positive:

 Furthermore, we now know that fever precedes the contagious stage, allowing workers who are unknowingly infected to identify themselves before they become a threat to their community. This understanding is based on more than clinical observation: the sensitive blood polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) test for Ebola is often negative on the day when fever or other symptoms begin and only becomes reliably positive 2 to 3 days after symptom onset.

If we can trust healthcare workers like Hickox to monitor and self-identify when they start in with symptoms, then it would be acceptable not to quarantine them and to simply have them undergo 21 days of monitoring by the CDC and local healthcare officials. But what about the case of Craig Spencer, the doctor who traveled to Africa to treat Ebola patients and returned to the states? He ended up positive for the disease a few days after he had gone on the subway and to a bowling alley. It has recently emerged that he lied to authorities and said he was self-quarantining and was only discovered when detectives found activity on his Metro card suggesting otherwise. Considering this fact, I think it more than reasonable that the American public may not be willing to take a healthcare worker’s word for it that they will exercise reasonable precautions after returning from an Ebola hot zone.

New reports say that after her announcement on the Today show of planning to ignore the quarantine, Maine state police showed up at her house to force her to stay at home:

“We hoped that the healthcare worker would voluntarily comply with these protocols, but this individual has stated publicly she will not abide by the protocols,” Governor LePage said in a public statement. “We are very concerned about her safety and health and that of the community. We are exploring all of our options for protecting the health and well-being of the healthcare worker, anyone who comes in contact with her, the Fort Kent community and all of Maine. While we certainly respect the rights of one individual, we must be vigilant in protecting 1.3 million Mainers, as well as anyone who visits our great state.”


The focus should be squarely on how to stop Ebola, not on the “civil rights” of one nurse who knew full well the risk she was putting herself at when traveling to Africa to treat Ebola patients. Let me be clear- I am not talking about radical quarantine measures for random citizens who maybe sat on the same train as someone who just got back from Sierra Leone. I am only talking about healthcare workers who have come into contact with Ebola patients. So far, we have had one nurse fly in a plane after treating an Ebola patient, another go on a cruise ship, a doctor head over to the bowling alley and now, Hickox refusing to stay quarantined for another few weeks. I do not understand this behavior at all.

I can only speak for myself when I say that if I were one of them, I would be MORE than willing to do whatever it took to ease the public’s fear and to ensure there was no possible way I could make anyone else sick in case it turned out that I was. I am not willing to put my trust in healthcare workers to police themselves when they are slowly showing (Dr. Spencer and Hickox) that they are not willing to do what any responsible person would do in their position. Deal with your 21 days and move on. I’m sure it sucks but it is hardly the worst thing in the world.

(Image: Twitter)


  1. keelhaulrose

    October 29, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    First, we need to look at the fact that there were people who ate at the same restaurant and bowled at the same bowling alley as that doctor, and people who flew on planes with these people, and thus far we have a grand total of zero who have come down with ebola. So, let’s not pretend that this is quite the crisis situation the media has played it out to be. The fact of the matter is we’re not going to see a lot more cases here in the US, and the majority of those we see will be healthcare workers exposed overseas. The nurse is not contagious.
    That said, she was legit quarantined for a fever after her flight. However, when it came to light that she did not have ebola she should not have been kept in that crappy excuse for a quarantine tent she was kept in.
    The truth of the matter is that more people in the US are going to die of the flu this year than are even going to contract ebola. And yet we’re not going through crazy quarantine measures for everyone with a sniffly nose. Ebola is just not that contagious. I think she needs to realize that people are nervous, but at the same time militantly enforcing a quarantine on someone who is not going to be passing this disease to anyone else is just going to fuel the panic and misinformation.

    • Valerie

      October 29, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      Right but testing neg once doesn’t mean much. It can take several days for the virus to show up in a blood test.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 29, 2014 at 4:41 pm

      True, however someone with Ebola is not contagious until they are showing symptoms of the disease. Once she was asymptomatic and had tested negative the quarantine was for no other purpose than it made the public feel better about a threat that wasn’t there.
      One of the doctors on GMA (I think) said it best when he said our best chance of fighting Ebola here is to fight it in west Africa, and these unnecessary (and, to be honest, slightly cruel) quarantine procedures for those who have zero chance of spreading the disease is doing nothing to actually help fight the disease there and might actually be hurting because health care workers don’t want to come home and spend three weeks in isolation for a disease they don’t have so they aren’t going to go.
      Should she be allowed to walk through the supermarket and lick all the apples, no, but no one should be allowed to do that. All her quarantine is accomplishing is inciting fear.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 5:09 pm

      Disagree there. A quarantine in her case is doing exactly what it should be. As the article states, if previous medical returnees actually did what they were supposed to I might buy into self monitoring and self quarantine measures. But with her “me me me me me me” attitude I find it very questionable that she even cares about public health.
      That said, she sould be allowed to hang out at home or in a comfortable place for 21 days and she should get unemployment or some other compensation so she isn’t destitute from 3 extra weeks off of work.
      And you are right overall in a respect-its a cost benifit case and IMHO the benifit of a preventing a possible infection or more here outwieghs the cost of losing a few medical vols of dubious ardor (if you truly want to fight the disease you should be willing to suck up 21 days of apartment time) to affected West African countries.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 29, 2014 at 5:44 pm

      The truth of the matter is she’s not contagious. And I completely understand her attitude, she was kept in a tent in New Jersey in late October with no entertainment, no running water, and minimal human contact even after it was proven she was no threat to others. Once out she’s being treated like a criminal. I can’t imagine a few people who wouldn’t have an attitude. If what I’ve read is correct she had no issues with being put into the medical quarantine at first (save for her issues with the condition of the tent she was in) because she knew her fever was concerning, she just got mad when she was proven safe and still kept in those conditions.
      As for the possible infection, look at the history of those who have gotten Ebola in the US. One man died because of bad medical practices, since then no one has died and we’ve successfully cured those who have gotten it. Ebola is not nearly as scary when you don’t have the obstacles those with the disease are dealing with in West Africa. I don’t feel comfortable essentially imprisoning those who will, if we’re honest, never infect another person on the chance they might infect someone else. That was tried with AIDs patients and we recognized it as inhumane.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      True enough about her current level of contagious-but if she does have ebola can you tell me when it will surface? And if she lied about having a fever once (different news stories put this story out differently) what makes you think she won’t lie again. This woman appears to be a very, very special snowflake who thinks she saved heaven and earth and now thinks she can do no wrong.
      I simply don’t trust people like that. A bit too close to a god complex.
      Or to put it another way- I would certainly have no problem with me being placed into a quarantine in her exact same circumstances. 21 days of boredom is a small price to pay to KNOW I wouldn’t have the chance of harming anyone else.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Ebola, if you have it, isn’t a 21 day event, either. It can be transmitted months after being cured (in the most intimate of situations) but no one is freaking out about the cured people going home.
      If she spikes a fever again she should go back into quarantine. She should be tested by officials every day, twice a day, as is standard. She should have some incentive to stay to that schedule (tie her unemployment compensation to her compliance, perhaps). However you have to realize we have many people entering the country from that area of the world every single day. The only reason this one is different is because she had a fever when she landed, a fever that turned out to not be the concern.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 30, 2014 at 11:03 am

      The quarantine most certainly is a 21 day event. And that is what I thought you were discussing.
      And I don’t think we should have “many people entering the country from that area of the world every day”. The two affected countries are not that important and US public health should trump the travel needs of the few people that want to come here from there.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 30, 2014 at 11:12 am

      There are more than two countries with outbreaks.
      Why do we quarantine those who might have the disease (but might not) for 21 days, but we don’t worry about people who HAVE had the disease who might still pass it along to others?

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 11:40 am

      This really points to the quarantines in nations outside of West Africa being more about fear than science to me. The other point that makes it clear that these quarantines are about public opinion is that no one is calling for quarantines for flu every year. There are millions of cases of flu annually, which result in hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths. Ebola is gory-scary, and we’ve got movies like Outbreak to give us vivid images of people bleeding from their eyes. Flu is real-scary, and we shrug our shoulders and say we’ll get the flu shot if we have time.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 30, 2014 at 11:49 am

      Exactly. I hate equating the situation in West Africa to the situation here because there are so many other factors that the only real constant is how Ebola is transmitted. The map of the ‘hot zones’ in West Africa clearly show that some of the places with the worst outbreaks are hundreds of miles from a hospital or Ebola treatment center. Many of these places lack our sanitary conditions, and don’t have the facilities to properly dispose of contaminated bodies and objects. You know, all that shit we have here which has limited the number of people who have gotten Ebola in the US to two who didn’t properly use the available resources. And then there is something like the flu, which is so easily transmitted through the air, and we give absolutely no care to trying to keep it contained. As much as we’re told not to go out if you are sick, we have employers who will fire those who follow those guidelines for not showing up. And that’s not to mention the “you do what you want to do” attitude towards those who refuse to vaccinate. And it’s going to cost approximately 36,000 people their lives this year and still we’re freaking out about something that two people have gotten on US soil and has only caused one death.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 29, 2014 at 5:01 pm

      I think it’s also prudent to point out that the family of the man who died of Ebola, the ones who lived with him and had contact with him while he was sick, are all past the twenty one day incubation period in the clear. That speaks volumes about how difficult it is to get it, but that story was a blip on the media’s screens.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 5:17 pm

      True enough, but its also the case that a huge % of the cases are trained medical personnel, which indicates that it is easy for even folks with years and years of training to get it once people are symptomatic.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 29, 2014 at 5:34 pm

      Yes, the people who are getting it are the ones touching the blood and feces of those who are symptomatic, which is exactly how it is spread.
      Those who aren’t doing just aren’t getting it because that’s not how it spreads. And quarantining the healthy is not helping a damn thing. It is only making Ebola seem bigger and scarier than it really is. If a woman can share a bed with a symptomatic patient and not get it we really shouldn’t worry about an asymptomatic woman going about her daily life.
      Honestly it is pissing me off how people are blowing this out of proportion with the outrage over a woman who cannot pass Ebola to the public being out in said public. Approximately 36,000 Americans will die in the next few months from the flu, but no one is talking about quarantine for those with it. I feel like that Joker meme: 36,000 people die from the flu and no one bats an eye, one guy dies from Ebola and everyone loses their damn mind.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      I would ask who cares and why they care if its blown out of proportion a bit? This affects a tiny number of people for a very short period of time.
      Plenty of people on this very site are perfectly willing to ban 10,000’s of kids without measels shots from actually going to school for YEARS at a time and the odds of dying from measles is thus far about the same as dying in the US from ebola.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 29, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      False equivalence, as Ebola and measles are transmitted two completely different ways.
      It’s not a tiny bit overboard, it’s crazy and only fueling fears. We have people voluntarily quarantining themselves with no scientific basis to do so and we have African children being attacked and called Ebola. We’re just shy of full fledged panic and the government going overboard is only fueling the fears.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

      So two kids in a playground fight is your evidence of harm from this “panic”? Again, I fail to see any huge harm in any of this. NJ was stupid not to have a better facility lined up but given the nature of the medical returnee’s thus far its simply hard to trust them.

    • keelhaulrose

      October 30, 2014 at 11:17 am

      People calling for full travel bans, mandatory quarantines for those who were anywhere near an outbreak even if they didn’t have any contract with cases, and, yes, the thinly veiled racism that has come with this outbreak qualifies as panic in my eyes.
      The nature of what? Exactly zero of them passing Ebola to anyone on US soil? You might have an argument if someone in the general public had gotten it, but, seeing as the woman sleeping next to the one Ebola death case in this country didn’t even come down with it, I don’t see why we need to monitor every single movement of healthy people for three weeks. This is taking away resources from people who are ACTUALLY sick, all that quarantine crap isn’t free.

    • Kelly

      October 30, 2014 at 6:17 pm

      I swear, the people losing their shit about Ebola don’t realize that this outbreak has been going on for almost a year and during that time American health workers have been going back and forth to the affected areas. A whole one of those health workers – in 10 months – has contracted Ebola after they were back in the US. One. It’s hardly a rampant problem.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      The nurses that caught Ebola from Duncan didn’t have proper PPE and had to get all up in Duncan’s bodily fluids to treat him when he was most contagious (even then, there were plenty of other people caring for him at the same time in the same conditions who didn’t get Ebola) . And they didn’t have years of training on how to deal with Ebola; they had next to no training on diseases like Ebola at all. Very few of the medical personnel who have treated Ebola patients have actually gotten Ebola (and most of the people who go overseas to volunteer don’t have “years” of training to deal with diseases like Ebola – they have days, maybe weeks of training). Not a single one of the people who have cared for Ebola patients at the US hospitals with isolation units (Emory, et al) have gotten Ebola. So no, it isn’t “easy” for people who actually have years of infectious disease training to get Ebola.

      Most people who have gotten Ebola aren’t health care workers, either. Most people who have gotten Ebola are regular people in West Africa.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 6:20 pm

      True, but 100’s of highly educated medical pros HAVE gotten ebola. To me this certainly does indicate that once it is communicable it becomes very easy to transmit. Since the onset of symptoms seems to happen rapidly (doc in NYC and the nurse who flew from Ohio to Texas) a quarantine seems prudent. Particularly since some of the returnee’s appear perfectly willing to flaunt the rules (doc in NYC and the reporter case).
      I simply fail to see a case for overwhelming harm for hanging out at home for 19 days as opposed to the potential harm that could come about if others end up getting ebola because she wants to flit around town.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      THIS. Duncan’s fiancee shared a bed with him for several days while he was very sick and even she didn’t get Ebola. This is not an easy disease to catch. It just isn’t. But those sorts of facts aren’t good for ratings so instead of reporting stuff like that, the media is instead being melodramatic and whipping people up into a terrified, irrational panic.

  2. Emily A.

    October 29, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I have tremendous respect for health care professionals who go into these risky areas to treat others. That is a totally selfless thing to do.

    And, I can only imagine that quarantine is like bed rest during pregnancy- it sounds just fine until you have to do it, at which time it is torturous.

    However. That does not excuse knowingly removing oneself from the quarantine. Refusing? Lying? Baffling.

  3. guest

    October 29, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    While I am the first to say the Ebola ish is way over blown and people panic about stupid shit…something about this woman rubs me the wrong way. You’re nice enough to be out there helping others but you come home and this shit is unbearable? I don’t buy it. Quarantine doesn’t sound like fun, but infecting a bunch of people sounds like even less fun. The first I heard of her was that she was going to sue and that tells me plenty about what kind of person she is right there.

    • SunnyD847

      October 29, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      You do have to have intimate contact with someone to infect them, so it’s not likely she’d pass it on casually. That being said, how awful would you feel if you infected others, especially people you love? I just think erring on the side of caution makes sense.

    • Lindsey

      October 29, 2014 at 6:23 pm

      Contact. Not intimate contact.

    • SunnyD847

      October 29, 2014 at 6:46 pm

      Bodily fluids is intimate to me (I don’t mean sexually intimate.) Definitely not casual.

    • Lindsey

      October 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm

      It can be spread through sweat, which can be definitely spread through casual touch.

    • SunnyD847

      October 29, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      But you have to be really sick before you have concentrations of the virus high enough to infect others so you probably wouldn’t be out shaking hands, plus it would have to get into an open wound or orifice.

    • KaeTay

      October 29, 2014 at 10:45 pm

      some people can have fever and not be full blown sick but be contagious.. so sweat and such will then cause spreading if it’s not nipped quickly.

    • SunnyD847

      October 29, 2014 at 10:51 pm

      Again, that would only be true for someone not looking for symptoms which these healthcare workers would be. I’m sure she does not want to die.

    • Lindsey

      October 30, 2014 at 7:54 am

      It’s coming into winter in the US, everyone has tiny open wounds(they don’t have to be gaping, just open). But that’s exactly why they have quarantine, because people are moving about when ill.

    • el macho pollo

      October 30, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      Nose mouth and eyes basically if you have fluid on your hands then touch your face.


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    • KaeTay

      October 29, 2014 at 10:35 pm

      well what if a sneeze snuck up on them and they didn’t cover their mouth in time.. can Ebola be spread through a nice splatter of sneeze goo on your face?

    • SunnyD847

      October 29, 2014 at 10:40 pm

      We’re talking about quarantining people who don’t have symptoms. You’re not contagious until you have symptoms at which point you should be quarantined.

    • KaeTay

      October 29, 2014 at 10:44 pm

      I know.. you can start running a fever and not really feel the full effects and be contagious at that point..

    • SunnyD847

      October 29, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      Yeah, but these healthcare workers know what to look for and are checking their temps twice a day. It’s not like someone who doesn’t know they may have been exposed and who thinks they have the flu. Having seen the effects of this disease, I’m sure these people would go the hospital ASAP to get the care they need.

    • Karen

      October 30, 2014 at 3:18 am

      That includes sweat, snot etc. Not to mention that suffers have severe diarrhoea. It is pretty contagious,more so than HIV. I’m stunned that after witnessing first hand the horror of this disease, anyone would want to risk spreading it. Utterly selfish, stupid and naiive in the worst way – ‘yes but that’s Africans in Africa. This is America. It can’t happen here’. You think Ebola gives a shit?

    • lakat18

      October 30, 2014 at 7:10 am

      NBC cameraman Ashoka Mukpo contracted Ebola and isn’t aware that he had intimate contact with any individual.

    • momma425

      October 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

      So much this.
      Yeah, I get it. Quarentine is annoying. It’s inconvenient and boring and potentially a huge over reaction. But you know what? I would much rather be in quarantine for weeks than infect someone with a deadly illness. Or hell- any illness at all.
      And this is coming from me- I’m an asshat who really cares about few people outside of my family/friend circle.

  4. cv

    October 29, 2014 at 4:48 pm

    I think if I’d been kept in a tent (in October in New Jersey) with no tv, no reading material, and no flushable toilet when I had tested negative for the virus, I’d be pretty irate, too. If there’s no hospital in New Jersey set up for that sort of thing, then transfer her someplace out of state that can handle it in a reasonable manner. Once her fever’s gone and she’s tested negative for the required few days, there’s no reason to continue to enforce a quarantine. Subjecting her to that unnecessarily makes other health care workers more reluctant to go to Africa and help address Ebola in the places where it actually is a crisis. The CDC has said that New Jersey’s procedures are over the top, as has the New England Journal of Medicine, so I don’t blame this person for pushing back against draconian, fear-mongering treatment.

    You know what infectious disease you’re much more likely to catch from someone on the subway, can be spread by people without symptoms, and that kills thousands of people in the US every year? The flu. Should we quarantine everyone who has a fever between November and April? Public health policy has to be in proportion to actual danger, not fear drummed up by the media.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      I agree a tent is stupid, but hanging out in her apartment for 18 or 19 more days is hardly torture.
      And I would rather be over the top a bit then too nonchalant.

    • practicallyperfectineveryway

      October 31, 2014 at 9:13 am

      I think I could hang out at my apartment for like 3 weeks. But i’ve become such a homebody.

    • Nic

      October 29, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      The tent was a bit much, but while she was in there she had access to her cell-phone, and computer, and apparently they were having meals from local restaurants delivered to her to help make it more bearable. It may have been an inconvience, but it was hardly prison.

    • Kelly

      October 30, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      Have you ever been outside at night in the northeast in late October? It’s bloody cold. Having a cell phone doesn’t magically make it warm.

  5. Rachel Sea

    October 29, 2014 at 5:41 pm

    I know many people who work in disaster aid, and from their personalities and stories, I can tell you, there are two kinds of people who do it: those who pair a desire to be helpers with a love of travel, and those who feel a calling (usually from god) to be heroes. The former are all about going and asking what the populace in crisis needs, and then helping them get it, the latter are all about taking over so they can be seen to save the day, often with some mission work.

    She seems like the latter.

  6. Cindy Ailey

    October 29, 2014 at 5:45 pm

    Perhaps she’s just mad because she was kept in a tent for several days and had to piss and shit in a bucket?

    Also, this nurse just came back from the hot zone, treating lots of people with ebola. She probably has a much higher understanding of the disease than the rabble who’s been whipped up into a frenzy over it.

    • Rachel Sea

      October 29, 2014 at 5:48 pm

      Given that she was giving wrong information about potential contagion, I think she has a much worse understanding then the CDC whose guidelines she is flaunting.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 6:09 pm

      I don’t think she’s actually “flaunting” any CDC guidelines, only the “guidelines” that state politicians have just now pulled out of their asses to try to score political points off the irrational panic created by the media. Unless the CDC has completely changed their guidelines in the last hour or so, they aren’t recommending mandatory quarantines for all returning health workers.

    • Lindsey

      October 29, 2014 at 6:21 pm

      No, they’re not. They can’t.

      However, this nurse came into contact with ebola patients and will not be considered safe for another 12 days. Ebola can show up anytime in the incubation period.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 6:35 pm

      Considering the CDC has lost/misplaced smallpox and anthrax over the last year, gave the green light to have affected country citizens come here, did nothing to help the Texas hospital once a case was present, and gave the green light to the nurse from Texas to fly I am not 100% convinced that they are doing the right thing now.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      The CDC accidentally sent a deadly pathogen to an unsecured lab in the city where I live, so I’m acutely aware that they aren’t infallible, thanks. But I’m much more inclined to trust their judgment (and the judgment of the plethora of other medical experts that agree with them) on the matter than the judgment of politicians with zero medical education who enact fear-inspired protocols that are completely contrary to what their own state medical experts have recommended. The CDC guidelines for returning health workers have been perfectly fine for the past 10 months of this outbreak (not to mention all the previous outbreaks). The public’s media-induced terror that the sky is suddenly falling really isn’t a valid scientific reason to change protocols.

      And a travel ban is an awful idea (not to mention wildly out of proportion with the danger actually presented), so I’m not going to knock the CDC for failing to recommend a measure that every expert has said will not only be unhelpful, but will actually make the problem worse. (I assume the lack of a travel ban is what you’re referring to when you say they “gave the green light to have affected country citizens come here”).

    • Michael Weldon

      October 30, 2014 at 10:49 am

      A travel ban would have precluded the two Dallas nurses from getting ebola, so we differ on it being an “awful” idea. Countries with travel bans don’t seem to have ebola cases popping up there….

    • Rachel Sea

      October 29, 2014 at 7:36 pm

      No, just those with fevers or other symptoms, like she had.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm

      She doesn’t currently have a fever, so those guidelines no longer indicate that she should be quarantined. Not following guidelines that don’t currently apply to you is not the same thing as flaunting those guidelines.

  7. Ursi

    October 29, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Her attitude is shameful. Heath care professionals should know better.

    No one forced her to go care for Ebola patients, STFU about your civil rights, lady. I’m not worried about an Ebola outbreak in the US but I’m worried about idiots. Her bit about the quarantine being “not scientifically just”– FFS, whatever happened to better safe than sorry?

    • Michael Weldon

      October 29, 2014 at 6:49 pm

      Yep. The odds of me or anyone else getting hurt if my neighbor decides to target shoot against a hill in his backyard are tiny-it doesn’t mean I want him shooting there instead of at a range though. A tiny risk is still a risk.

    • KarenMS

      October 29, 2014 at 9:40 pm

      See, I don’t like that because “Better safe than sorry” is a catchy little saying. Science is facts. We can’t be governed by what sounds best, if it factually isn’t. If I were her, I would go along with the quarantine just because I would hate the backlash. But I can’t disagree with her fighting it if there is no actual science backing it up.

    • Ezzy666

      October 30, 2014 at 12:51 am

      Better safe than sorry has been used an excuse to murder people just because someone thought they looked scary.

    • Kelly

      October 30, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      This. We locked up over a hundred thousand Japanese Americans during WWII just because we were afraid that a couple of them might decide to commit treason and help Japan. Because, hey, better safe than sorry!

      “Better safe than sorry” is a great rationale for grabbing your umbrella before you leave the house. It is not a great rationale for infringing on people’s rights.

  8. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    October 29, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    You guys do realize that she’s in a tent with no heat and no bathroom, right? For 21 days? I’d be pissed too. It’s totally ridiculous what they are putting her through. She’s a healthcare worker, and one of the few people in our nation that have actually taken steps to combat the disease where it lives.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 7:19 pm

      She’s back at her home now (or her boyfriend’s home, I’m not actually sure which. Don’t really care, honestly). But yea, the fact that NJ actually thought that was a reasonable way to quarantine someone for 3 freaking weeks is kind of rage inducing.

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      October 29, 2014 at 8:11 pm

      I read that change after my comment. I was behind! 🙁 😉

  9. TheQuirkyDiva

    October 29, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    Right. So…people are knee-jerking and panicking so badly about people spreading Ebola in the United States that they are forgetting that the best way to *keep* Ebola from spreading in the United States is to manage the epidemic in Africa. The more people there who get sick, the more likely it is to spread to other countries. That’s math. Public health officials (which do not include blowhard politicians) are in total agreement that imposing a mandatory quarantine on returning health workers will decrease the number of people who are able to volunteer to go in the first place. (MSF volunteers do one-month rotations…adding a 21-day quarantine doubles their commitment.)

    Secondly, I really don’t care what their motivations are for going over there to help. The health care workers going over there and putting themselves on the line to stop this epidemic are goddamn frigging heroes. They should be welcomed home with the equivalent of a military parade. (Did you know that it’s more dangerous to be a health worker in the affected areas right now than it was to be a soldier in the last 14 years in Afghanistan? True fact.)

    I get that people are scared and suspicious. And this woman may not have the best of attitudes. But it really bothers me how easily people are buying into the political message, rather than listening to the people who really know how this works.

    Sorry…that was ranty…I am out of caffeine…

  10. Liz

    October 29, 2014 at 7:51 pm

    It’s frustrating that people are completely buying into the politically-motivated media hype around this, rather than…oh I don’t know….listening to the recommendations of people who have actual expertise in public health, Ebola, etc. You know why this nurse was quarantined? Because Chris Christie is an narcissistic bully, and he wanted to score political points and take the focus in NJ away from the fact that he’s spent very little time in his own state for the past several months (oh, and the fact that we still haven’t recovered from Sandy). In his opinion, if the entire medical community and the CDC strongly disagree with him that just proves how dumb they are. To anyone who’s not Christie, it should prove that Christie’s head is up his rectum and these measures are based in politics, not science.

    If anyone wants to take a logical look at this: even the above article states the people become symptomatic prior to becoming contagious. Does anyone really believe that a trained medical professional who has just returned from treating Ebola victims is going to ignore their own symptoms? Of an often fatal disease? Or are they going to get to a hospital immediately and alert them of the Ebola exposure – if we can assume that our medical professionals are not suicidal, I think it’s safe to say this is the correct choice. It would be reasonable to insist that returning medical professionals have their temperatures monitored for the 21 day incubation period and institute a quarantine if there’s a fever (but the quarantine would then be lifted if the person improved and the blood test was negative, as in this case). Again, the person is not contagious before they start showing symptoms – there are no risks at all to anyone else. Even a symptomatic person is only contagious if you touch their bodily fluids – and if that were truly enough reason to quarantine someone then we should indeed quarantine those with HIV (which I absolutely do not think should have ever been done nor should it ever be done).

    And for everyone saying that there’s no harm in “better safe than sorry”, that’s completely untrue. There are dangerous precedents potentially being set here. The governors of NY and NJ are taking public health decisions away from public health officials, and making political decisions instead. Do you really want it to be ok for public health decisions to be made by politicians with no medical expertise whatsoever, even when it completely contradicts what actual medical experts recommend? Then the south and midwest can probably kiss abortion rights goodbye. This whole hullabaloo is also creating several dangerous and false impressions that could do real harm: 1) Ebola is the greatest health threat, or at least the most dangerous communicable disease 2) the government can and will protect you from dangerous diseases 3) the recommendations of public health officials are unimportant and can be ignored 4) if there’s not a hue and cry about a disease, it must not be that dangerous 5) we have a real problem here, so we shouldn’t be focusing on the problem elsewhere. These ideas cause people do ignore the real risks they face (like the flu, obesity, high blood pressure, and heart disease), and promote diverting resources from where they are needed to where they’re most politically useful. All of that sounds pretty damn risky to me, and for what? Making people feel better about an imaginary manufactured danger?

    Ok, sorry, rant over! I got all worked up talking about this with my microbiologist father, and I ragestroked all over the keyboard. 🙁 (also I hate that Christie’s making my state look like crap, again)

    tl;dr – the quarantine issue is political, not scientific, and that’s not a good way to handle public health.

    • cold_ember

      October 29, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      This. All of this. So much.

    • Amanda

      October 29, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      Oh my goodness, finally another same individual. The CDC is not requiring the quarantine, a polititian with no medical training is… So what does that tell you?

    • Jem

      October 29, 2014 at 9:15 pm

      Very, very well said.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 29, 2014 at 9:17 pm

      Well said! I was shocked to hear that she wanted to defy quarantine until I learned that it wasn’t actually recommended by health agencies. Then I understood much better why she was so angry, although I still feel like I would self-quarantine in her position for safety’s sake.

      Ebola is shockingly UNcommunicable, when you really look at it.

    • Liz

      October 30, 2014 at 11:58 am

      Thanks! That’s the most frustrating part – the media is painting her as some irresponsible selfish idiot, and most people aren’t going to have the time or inclination to research what the actual issues are.

      Also, I have to say I think the world gets a little more awesome every time someone says “you know I used to think x, but then I found more information and changed my position to y.” So thank you for a bit of awesome 🙂

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 12:02 pm

      Aw, thanks! I’ve been doing that a lot recently 🙂 It’s an important thing to be comfortable doing!

  11. aCongaLine

    October 29, 2014 at 8:44 pm

    it’s 21 days…. not 21 years. Yeesh. Suck it up and bring your kindle, lady. Oy vey.

  12. Vikky

    October 29, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    She not a criminal.
    We treat criminals better.
    She was kept in a tent with no heat and no running water. Now she’s under house arrest.
    In spite of the fact that medical professionals (of which she is one) say there’s no reason for her to be isolated.
    Her civil rights are being violated because Christie wants to grandstand.

    • Michael Weldon

      October 30, 2014 at 10:46 am

      She hasn’t been in NJ for a while now…

  13. CrazyFor Kate

    October 29, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    I’m sorry, but it’s three fucking weeks. It’s not a lot of time out of your life. And if your job were to drop you for being in quarantine under the government’s orders, you could definitely make a stink about it and probably win. She needs to pipe down and lock her damn door already.

    • Ezzy666

      October 30, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Are her rent, car note and other bills also forgiven?

    • Michael Weldon

      October 30, 2014 at 10:46 am

      Your point is very valid. If the government wants to hold people up for 21 days its fine by me, but they should then give returning medical folks unemployment or somehthing like that for the 3 weeks of lost work time.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 11:28 am

      SO MUCH THIS! I get annoyed at the Canadian public health services every flu season, because they say, “If you get the flu, stay home for a week or until the symptoms are gone, especially if you work in food or customer service industries.” And I think, “Then why don’t you require employers to give a minimum of five paid sick days? Because when I was working in customer service, I could NOT miss five paid days in a month because I had the flu and still feed myself.”

    • Layla

      October 30, 2014 at 3:55 pm

      So not sure what follow thru was but I believe they did say they would compensate you for the time.

      Also I have read somewhere that doctors without borders pays you for three weeks when you return from a place with ebola since you can’t treat patkents

  14. KaeTay

    October 29, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    If I was her I would accept my quarantine .. I know she’ s mad because she has no symptoms except since she was over there herself should recognize how easily this could go south and should just suck it up and realize that it’s a “just in case” measure. I’m sure she’s getting some kind of payment for being forced to stay home. it sucks but I know the U.S just wants to make sure that we nip this in the butt.

  15. gammachris

    October 29, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Well put. I was a nurse for quite a long time, and I see nothing wrong with a 21 day quarantine. Three weeks and you can be on your merry way. If the quarantine accommodations are sub-par, then that needs to be addressed.

    • Ezzy666

      October 30, 2014 at 12:41 am

      A lot of doctors and nurses are refusing to go help b/c they can’t afford to take the extra time off when they come back from helping in areas that really need the help.

    • gammachris

      October 30, 2014 at 4:18 pm

      If they have been working on the front lines in fighting this outbreak, any healthcare worker has to be aware of the risks. If these workers were willing to follow through with a home quarantine, then there wouldn’t be a problem. However, people that should know better have been flouting those rules.

  16. AP

    October 29, 2014 at 11:41 pm

    This past spring, I went to the doctor with a raging case of bronchitis that felt like borderline pneumonia. I couldn’t breathe and I was coughing so hard I couldn’t sleep or really move. Because I spend about 10 hours a week in the pool teaching swim lessons, I work heavily with the elderly, and my job has physical competency requirements, I stayed home the whole time I was sick.

    My doctor laughed at me, said, “Really? I can’t believe you stayed home! I always come to work when I’m as sick as you. You’re being dramatic.”

    So this? Not a shock.

    • Elisa the Uterine Unicorn

      October 29, 2014 at 11:46 pm

      I have a fairly mild case of bronchitis right now. I have been off work for a week now, thought I was okay this morning and got sent home, because I work in the kitchen of a hospital/nursing home/ assisted living facility. Even just a cough to clear your throat is suspect there. LOL

      If I stay home I’m being dramatic. If I go in, I get sent home. Can’t win. And the only thing the eases the cough is that infernal codeine cough syrup that turns my brain to mush and if not for spell check this post would be completely unreadable.

    • خالد الحربي

      October 30, 2014 at 9:19 pm


    • Emil

      October 29, 2014 at 11:52 pm

      I’m sure everyone he works with really appreciates it. I have when people come in sick just to show how tough they are. Stay home. I get enough germs with a toddler in daycare.

    • Ezzy666

      October 30, 2014 at 12:40 am

      The last principal I had used to give me a hard time whenever I took a sick day and put in for a sub. I would get guilted into showing up when the job wasn’t picked up. She thought it was OK that I was high off of my meds and drove to school and back in that condition. A lot of the newer teachers were too scared to take sick days. Maybe I won’t go back this year after all.

  17. A

    October 29, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    I know better than researchers, medical professionals, and the cdc about how to respond to Ebola because I watch the news and have feelings! Seriously consider your own level of smug. Even prior to this outbreak there were people exposed to Ebola every day at work- should researchers just live in quarantine or semi quarantine? What about the nurses actively treating people who are suspected of having Ebola- how can they treat the patient if they are in quarantine.
    IF YOU DONT HAVE A FEVER YOU ARENT CONTAGIOUS- yes the dr in New York rode the subway and went out in public- when he wasn’t sick and therefore not contagious. When he did become sick and posed a risk of being contagious he called the appropriate authorities. Fair enough this woman should have been quarantined when she presented with a fever- but once medical professionals were able to state that she no longer had a fever or any symptoms and had a negative test for Ebola- there was no logical reason for the quarantine. Politicians Pandering to fear and ignorance is the only reason she remains in quarantine

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 9:07 am

      Even if people find this nurse unpleasant (as I did when I first read her statements), it doesn’t change all the facts that you’ve stated. I wonder if people would feel differently if she was saying she needed to leave a non-medically recommended quarantine to care for her ailing mother?

      When I initially heard that she wanted out of the quarantine, I was shocked. Then I learned that it had nothing to do with any scientific basis and was essentially a political decision to make people feel better. While I still don’t like her tone, I can very much understand her anger now.

    • SA

      October 30, 2014 at 10:59 am

      No, I’d hope that being exposed to Ebola she would not go help her mother with an already weakened immune system.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 11:08 am

      Just to play devil’s advocate, would you feel the same way if she had the flu? Because far, far more people will die in North America from the flu this year than from Ebola.

      I get how scary the idea of Ebola getting away from us is, but it really does not transmit easily. She was only quarantined because she had a fever upon landing, one not
      related to Ebola. Otherwise, she would have walked out of the airport
      and followed the standard protocol, twice daily temperature checks and
      other medical tests for the 21 days. That’s what every other person who came back with her is doing right now. It really is safe for her to be out of quarantine.

    • SA

      October 30, 2014 at 1:02 pm

      Yeah, I wouldn’t want her at work or caring for a sick family member with the flu either. They encourage people to stay at home who have the flu too. I think people are complete jackasses that come to work aware that they are spreading anything but the common cold. I mean I do understand what you are saying and I too understand that it is not that easily transmittable, but you also know that you can not compare flu deaths and Ebola deaths. Many many more people a year catch the flu than Ebola in this country so obviously there will be more deaths. So basically there is a 1% chance of dying if you catch the flu and a 60-70% chance of dying if you catch Ebola. It also requires intense hospitalization and treatment for everyone who catches it, so why not err on the side of caution.

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 1:18 pm

      True, but your chances of catching the flu from someone with the flu on the same bus as you are vastly higher than catching Ebola from a patient who’s on your bus. And while they encourage people with flu to stay home, they don’t require a quarantine. Really what I’m getting at is that, in terms of relative risk, we all have a much greater chance of flu-related complications than we do of an Ebola epidemic starting from a nurse who’s breaking a quarantine that’s not medically necessary.

    • Layla

      October 30, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Also flu typically kills the weak. Ebola kills people who were otherwise healthy

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      October 30, 2014 at 9:41 am

      I do have a problem with him lying and the flaunting of guidelines. Because while it’s incredibly unlikely to get Ebola, when healthcare professionals are all “fever schmever” then the general public acts that way too. Then they don’t go get treatment etc. I think what they did to this woman was wrong and politically motivated, but she’s a healthcare professional, she knew she was treating Ebola patients and she knew this might be a possibility (the quarantine, not the tent/no heat/no water situation). I don’t think she or Spencer gets to act like this is completely absurd response.

  18. Alanna Jorgensen

    October 30, 2014 at 12:03 am

    I’ve been struggling with the strange duality this woman possesses. On the one hand, she is brave and selfless for going over there to help, but then she comes back and is unbelievably selfish to not think about the community. Even if it’s an abundance of caution, which her fever denotes it is not, the fact remains that it is not unreasonable to ask that she quarantine to allay the fears of the community. The bowling alley and restaurant the doctor in New York visited are now in danger of going out of business because no one is willing to take the off chance of going there. Those are real world effects on people who didn’t ask for them. Better a little too much caution than the absolute lack we have seen thus far.

    • Jen TheTit Whisperer

      October 30, 2014 at 9:44 am

      Exactly. This isn’t just about them, even if they are the ones quarantined. They treated her deplorably, but come on. She had a fever and the blood test was too soon to confirm. I think at this point if CDC and doctors are clearing her then it’s time to move on but her attitude and her behavior (and Spencer’s) aren’t doing this any justice. Everyone is freaking out about it instead of understanding the reality of the chances of getting Ebola.

  19. shorty_RN

    October 30, 2014 at 12:36 am

    Seriously, why risk it? Most likely, she is negative and won’t spread it, but what if she does? Just finish the damn quarantine and move on.

  20. Helene

    October 30, 2014 at 6:46 am

    As a rule, I tend to disagree with any article that puts “civil rights” in quotation marks.

  21. Ellefont

    October 30, 2014 at 9:15 am

    Did I miss your byline reporting that you are a doctor? No? Then be quiet, like all the other hysterical idiots.

  22. Jen TheTit Whisperer

    October 30, 2014 at 9:35 am

    If 2 strippers can quarantine themselves voluntarily because they were close to the nurse from Dallas, then healthcare workers can and should. I hate to be that girl (no, I don’t) but you know if you are going to work with Ebola infected patients the risks and that could include a quarantine after. You do not DO NOT get to bitch, whine or throw a fit about that after the fact. If, a licensed healthcare worker cannot grasp that, perhaps they shouldn’t be a healthcare worker. I know if Spencer and Hilcox were MY employees, I would be questioning their judgment and abilities as healthcare workers.

  23. Katherine Handcock

    October 30, 2014 at 9:42 am

    The more I’m reading about this, the more enforcing a non-medically recommended quarantine bothers me. I understand
    the fear everyone is feeling about this, and if I were in her shoes, I
    might very well choose to voluntarily quarantine (not in the tent with
    no heat and running water, but at home.) But “better safe than sorry” is
    also an argument that’s used by people who don’t believe in
    vaccinations, or, for that matter, who wear tinfoil hats! In the end, I
    think medical recommendations — in this case, that the quarantine is
    not required — should trump political decisions or our personal fears.

  24. Fred Bastiat

    October 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

    She needs a good PR person, someone that will get her out mixing with the people with some good photos of her kissing babies. Anyone ready to volunteer their baby for the photo-op? Why not, the science says…

  25. SA

    October 30, 2014 at 10:50 am

    My thing is….what happens when you are out on the subway and your fever spikes and you feel nauseated. Is there enough time to get home or to the hospital before you do become a danger to others? I agree that having her in a hospital quarantine was a bit much, but a home quarantine for 3 weeks isn’t the civil rights violation she makes it out to be, just part of the job of treating a highly infectious disease with a very high death rate. You also have to think about her costs to the public and private business owners. Like the nurse that went and tried on wedding dresses, that dress shop lost business during the time they closed and had to be cleaned, etc. We won’t have an outbreak in this country because we are taking extra precautions. This isn’t a cold, it is Ebola and if you have enough compassion to risk your life and to spend time away from your home and family to treat people with this disease, you think you would be willing to help put the public mind at ease by keeping out of public until you are positive you are healthy yourself.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      October 30, 2014 at 5:37 pm

      This is exactly my feeling. I know how low the risk is but still probably wouldn’t feel it worth visiting a place someone still in the incubation period visited. I understand that may not be perfectly scientifically rational, but the doctor in New York visited very public places just a little too close to onset of symptoms for me to feel great about it. Many people feel the same, I’m sure, and I’m not even panicked about the situation. I just would skip that particular destination and find something else to do. Even if she is not a risk to public health, she is still a financial risk to businesses in the area. That may not be fair, but it is the truth. I would feel terrible if a small business owner couldn’t pay their bills because I couldn’t wait a few weeks to frequent their establishment.

  26. andrea

    October 30, 2014 at 11:54 am

    Here’s the bottom line: You tell me there’s a chance I *might* be carrying a pretty serious disease that could be spread, and I’ve seen with my own eyes through volunteer work just how devastating it can be, I, as a decent human being, will do whatever has been deemed necessary by those in the know to make sure I don’t become a part of the problem. Might it seem a little over the top? Yes. Is it going to inconvenience her? Most definitely. But IMO only a freaking douche would be so pigheaded about it, bringing attorneys into it. It sets a very dangerous precedent: she has thus far tested negative, but what about the next person?

    • Katherine Handcock

      October 30, 2014 at 11:57 am

      But those in the know say the quarantine isn’t necessary — the CDC, the WHO, and the New England Journal of Medicine. The people mandating the quarantine are politicians. I’m very uncomfortable with the idea that political decision makers are over-ruling medical experts in this decision, even if I personally would choose to self-quarantine in her situation.

      Honestly, from her work in West Africa, she probably saw just how hard it actually is to transmit Ebola if you use proper precautions. I’m still blown away by Fatu Kekula, the Liberian nurse-in-training who cared for four family members and didn’t get sick because she used multiple layers of gloves and trash bags for protection.

  27. Anotheropinionatednative

    October 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    I am so, so relieved to read this piece, and know that I am not totally crazy for gritting my teeth every time I hear a snippet of Hickox’s story over the radio.

  28. LK

    October 31, 2014 at 7:04 am

    I was with this woman that NJ did not handle her quarantine well there AT ALL. Feel like she got understandably pissed about THAT situation, but now every interview I’ve seen is like, seriously lady? She is loving the soapbox too much. And I’m sorry, but “I am the one who is suffering” Are you for real? How do you come home from the epicenter of ebola and argue YOU are suffering during your at home quarantine??? People are dying horrible deaths with only rudimentary medical interventions, and I’m supposed to feel sorry for you being stuck in the house a few weeks.

  29. stupidpeople

    November 1, 2014 at 11:23 am

    just do your duty… ms. nurse of the people. heh.

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