Maine to "enforce" nurse's "voluntary" quarantine

After setting what may have been a land speed record in retaining an attorney and threatening to sue everyone in New Jersey for violating her civil rights, formerly quarantined nurse Kaci Hickox is back in Maine. Initially, the aforementioned lawyer stated that Kaci knew what was best, and while she thanked everyone for their interest, she would not be remaining in quarantine for more than a day or two. But now that she’s actually back home, the worm seems to be turning once again and the state plans to have her reconsider her decision.

Health officials said Tuesday they’re prepared to legally enforce the state’s “voluntary” quarantine on health care workers who’ve treated Ebola patients.

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.”

As in most of the nation, the decisions of our wise elected leaders have not been widely embraced in the community. The article notes a number of interviews with students at the local university who expressed serious concerns about not only Hickox being out and about, but her boyfriend as well. Still, that doesn’t do much to clarify how Maine plans to explain the difference between a mandatory quarantine and a voluntary one which they will enforce if you don’t comply.

But this is really just a microcosm of the larger, national hypocrisy on this issue. Noah already highlighted (in much more polite words than I could have managed) the doublespeak of the President when he attempted to explain how mandatory quarantines of people who are actually working with Ebola patients are insulting and bad, but quarantining our troops who do not have such contact is an obvious choice. In fact, there seems to be little that the administration and their media surrogates can agree on except for four things:

1. Chris Christie is a terrible person and we shouldn’t do anything he says.
2. Mandatory quarantines are insulting and bad for America.
3. We obviously need to go ahead and do exactly what Christie put in place.
4. But under no circumstances should we call it a mandatory quarantine.

As a side note, when Christie was asked about the possibility of being sued by Hickox, his short answer was, Go ahead. Get in line. I’ve been sued lots of times. Get in the line.

Did that make him look angry? Was he coming off looking like a bully? Was that answer a bridge too far? (I can keep going all morning. I’ve got a million of ’em. Try the veal. Be sure to tip your waiter.)