FORT KENT — The Maine nurse who treated Ebola patients in West Africa came out of her boyfriend’s home Wednesday night to speak with reporters about the state-ordered 21-day quarantine that prohibits her from leaving the residence before Nov. 10.
Kaci Hickox and boyfriend Ted Wilbur met with reporters in the driveway of Wilbur’s Fort Kent home around 7 p.m. while state and local police watched from across the street.
“We have been in negotiations all day with the state of Maine and tried to resolve this amicably, but they are not allowing me to leave my house and interact with the public even though I am completely healthy and symptom free,” Hickox said. “I am frustrated by this fact, and I have been told that it is the Attorney General’s intention to file legal action against me. And if this does occur, I will challenge the legal actions.”
Hickox said she does not know if she will follow through on a vow she made earlier to violate the state’s order and leave her home on Thursday.
Hickox went on national television Wednesday morning to say that she will not abide by the state-ordered quarantine.
“The ball is in the state’s court,” Hickox said of the expected litigation. “My lawyers and I will discuss that and then decide.”
Maine’s top health official, Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, said the state will go to court to enforce the quarantine.
Wilbur had gone across the street Wednesday night to talk to the police before Hickox came out to make sure they would not arrest her if she spoke to the media.
Hickox appeared completely healthy, spoke calmly and even shook the hand of a British reporter, who told her that he would shake her hand after she made a statement that she doesn’t have Ebola and is not contagious.
“You could hug me. You could shake my hand. I would not give you Ebola,” Hickox said.
Hickox returned the United States last week after working with Ebola patients for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone – one of the countries hardest hit by the epidemic.
She arrived at Newark Liberty International Airport on Friday and was placed in a forced quarantine by officials in New Jersey, which had recently established a blanket quarantine for health care workers returning to the U.S. from countries in West Africa. The measure went beyond guidelines for such workers set out by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A forehead scanner at the airport showed her temperature was 101, an indication that she had a fever and possibly Ebola. But Hickox attributed her high temperature to being upset with the way she was being treated. She was taken to University Hospital in Newark, where she was placed in an isolation tent and quarantined. At the hospital, her temperature was normal. Her blood was tested and the results came back negative for Ebola.
Hickox hired a prominent civil rights attorney and threatened to go to court. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie lifted the quarantine and Hickox was escorted to Maine on Monday.
Though it was not clear where she spent that night, she was back at her home in Fort Kent on Tuesday.
Wilbur, her boyfriend, is a nursing student at the University of Fort Kent. The University has said that Wilbur will not be allowed on campus until he is cleared of any Ebola risk.