Surprise: Those potentially exposed to Ebola resist quarantining

This should be perfectly intuitive for anyone who has had even fleeting exposure to human nature, but it is easy to suspect that an administration that reflexively bleats “science” in lieu of a cogent argument may lack the requisite experience to know that people will instinctively resist internment.

The media appeared certain that they had in nurse Kaci Hickox a figure they could transform into a victim of the imperious bully Chris Christie when she was involuntarily quarantined after returning to the United States from West Africa where she aided Ebola victims. In creating an object of pity out of Hickox, the press perhaps believed they could take some of the heat off of President Barack Obama who, in opposing the quarantining of those returning from West Africa, is on the wrong side of 80 percent of the public just days before a national election.

While in isolation, Hickox gave interviews insisting that her “human rights” had been violated when she was quarantined. After she tested negative for the virus, Hickox was allowed to travel to her native Maine where she promptly announced that she would refuse to abide by local self-quarantining regulations. Hickox intends to make a martyr of herself, and will mount a self-centered last stand in defense of her right not to be caged any longer.

“I will go to court to attain my freedom,” Hickox told ABC’s Good Morning America on Wednesday. In response to Hickox’s vainglorious crusade, Maine is apparently considering making its self-quarantining guidelines slightly less voluntary.

“We do not want to have to legally enforce in-home quarantine,” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew. “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.”

Apparently, some of these “selfless” heroes are also fallible human beings who will not necessarily surrender to quarantining merely because it is deemed the course that best ensures the public safety.

It turns out that the honor system is also an imperfect tool for ensuring that potentially exposed health care workers give American investigators an accurate picture of just how likely they are to have spread the Ebola virus.

Dr. Craig Spencer, the American care worker who was discovered to be an Ebola carrier in New York City, initially told investigators that he had barricaded himself in his Harlem Home. Spencer “didn’t admit he rode the subways, dined out and went bowling until cops looked at his MetroCard the sources said,” The New York Post reported.

“He told the authorities that he self-quarantined. Detectives then reviewed his credit-card statement and MetroCard and found that he went over here, over there, up and down and all around,” a source said.

Spencer finally ’fessed up when a cop “got on the phone and had to relay questions to him through the Health Department,” a source said.

There is a reason why the ancient practice of isolating populations that are potentially infected with a deadly disease is a mandatory practice. People resist quarantining and they lie to investigators, even if they are aware that by doing so they could jeopardize others.

There is a reason why the public supports a more robust approach to the Ebola crisis, and they should resent being treated like unthinking brutes by the self-assured sophisticates in the press. It seems like the general public understands human nature far better than do arrogant news producers or the members of the administration to whom they are deferring.