Kaci Hickox can go home, according to the New Jersey Department of Health.
An Ebola nurse returned from Africa, Hickox threatened to sue Gov. Chris Christie after the the governor declared a public health-first quarantine last Friday and confined her in “prison.”
Today, the governor’s office released a statement.
“Since testing negative for Ebola on early Saturday morning, the patient being monitored in isolation at University Hospital in Newark has thankfully been symptom free for the last 24 hours,” said Christie spoeksman Mike Drewniak. “As a result, and after being evaluated in coordination with the CDC and the treating clinicians at University Hospital, the patient is being discharged. Since the patient had direct exposure to individuals suffering from the Ebola Virus in one of the three West African nations, she is subject to a mandatory New Jersey quarantine order. After consulting with her, she has requested transport to Maine, and that transport will be arranged via a private carrier not via mass transit or commercial aircraft. She will remain subject to New Jersey’s mandatory quarantine order while in 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.”
Hickox is a nurse who specializes in infectious disease, and the first American to be isolated under New Jersey’s new 21-day quarantine on Ebola aid workers, according to the report in Forbes.
She worked for Doctors Without Borders.
“Physicians at University Hospital have continuously monitored the patient’s situation since admittance on Friday, following her arrival at Newark Airport from West Africa where she had been treating symptomatic Ebola patients,’ Drewniak said. “The patient was initially found to have no symptoms, but later developed a fever. Because she had symptoms, she was subsequently transferred to University Hospital where she was placed in isolation under a quarantine order for review and testing. She was cared for in a monitored area of the hospital with an advanced tenting system that was recently toured and evaluated by the CDC. While in isolation, every effort was made to insure that she remained comfortable with access to a computer, cell phone, reading material and nourishment of choice.”
The governor’s office later released a transcript of a campaign trail exchange Christie had with the media following the news about Hickox’s return to Maine.
That transcript is reprinted below…
Governor Christie: Well listen, first off we’re very happy that she has been released from the hospital this morning because she hasn’t had any symptoms for 24 hours and New Jersey is providing transportation for her back to home in Maine where the Maine health officials will take over her care and monitoring from there. And so remember I understand she was uncomfortable and no one likes to be in the hospital but she was under supervision by the CDC and our health officials at all times and I’m glad that she’s getting to go back home and hopefully her health will remain being good and if it is, then it’s good for her, her family and everybody else. But we’re not going to take any risks with the public health in New Jersey.
Question: Why did you reverse your decision initially?
Governor Christie: I didn’t reverse any decision. Why are you saying I reversed a decision?
Question: Because now she gets to go home…
Governor Christie: She always…
Governor Christie: If she was continuing to be ill she would have to stay. She hadn’t had any symptoms for 24 hours and she tested negative for Ebola so there’s no reason to keep her. The reason she was put in the hospital in the first place was because she was running a high fever and was symptomatic. So if you live in New Jersey, we’ll quarantine you in your home, that’s always been the policy. If you live outside the state and you’re symptomatic, we’re not letting you go onto public transportation. It makes no common sense. The minute she was no longer symptomatic, she was released. And that’s a common sense approach that the federal government wasn’t taking, that we took first in New Jersey and New York, has now been adopted by Chicago, has now been adopted by Maryland. As I said yesterday on the news, this will become the national policy because it’s smart, tough, common sense policy.
Question: Governor when you first described her as obviously ill, she took great offense at that…
Governor Christie: She took great offense at everything I said, Michael.
Question: Do you stand by that? Do you intend maybe speak to her? Talk to her?
Governor Christie: No I don’t. Listen I have no reason to talk to her. My job is not to represent her, it’s to represent the people of New Jersey. So she was ill. She was obviously ill enough that the CDC and medical officials hospitalized her and gave her an Ebola test, Michael. They don’t do that just for fun. That’s a very specific, difficult, expensive test to do. And so the fact is that I know she was upset and angry, she wanted to go home. Any of us have seen people who are traveling and they’ve been stopped, whether they’re late for a plane or whatever they’re doing, they get upset and angry. That’s fine. I have absolutely nothing but good will for her going forward. She’s a good person and went over and was doing good work over in West Africa. But she needs to understand that the obligation of elected officials is to protect the public health of all the people and if that inconvenienced her for a period of time, that’s what we need to do to protect the public, that’s what we will continue to do. So there’s been no reversal or change in any way of our policy or our approach. People are symptomatic, they go in a hospital. If they live in New Jersey, they get quarantined at home. And if they don’t and they’re not symptomatic, then we set up quarantine for them out of state. But if they’re symptomatic, they’re going in the hospital.
Question: What’s your response to Andrew Cuomo then easing…
Governor Christie: Governor Cuomo did not ease any restrictions at all. The same policies that we put into effect on Friday are still the same policies now. That’s been reported incorrectly. I spoke to Governor Cuomo last night. He’s in the exact same position that he’s been all along. So I have no response to him because there’s nothing to respond to. And remember Illinois has since adopted this policy, so has now the state of Maryland. So I’m telling you guys this is going to become a national policy eventually. Eventually the CDC will come around. And remember they were late to the game in Texas and we had people infected because of it.