Kaci Hickox, the first health worker isolated under the imposed mandatory quarantine in New Jersey, plans to contest the quarantine in court. She was informed that she had to be quarantined for 21 days in a hospital in Newark. The reason for the pending lawsuit is that the quarantine allegedly violates her constitutional rights, according to her lawyer – Norman Siegel – as reported by the Chicago Tribune on Sunday night. Additionally, the federal government has told the states that have asserted a mandatory quarantine – for some West Africa travelers traveling from countries hit by Ebola – that imposing mandatory quarantines could impede the fight against the deadly disease.
As for Hickox, she was assigned a 21-day quarantine in New Jersey after she returned from Sierra Leone. She was in the country to treat Ebola patients there. New York and New Jersey were first to place anyone in quarantine that arriving with a high risk of having caught Ebola from certain countries. The countries besides Sierra Leone are Guinea and Liberia. Approximately 5,000 people have died from Ebola in these countries.
Concerns about the possible impact of quarantine demands have been expressed to New York’s Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New Jersey’s Gov. Chris Christie. After pressure was put on the two governors by the White House, Cuomo has backed off somewhat. It was reported on Sunday night that New York’s Ebola quarantines can be spent at a person’s home. Medical experts are also showing resistance to the Ebola quarantine measures as well. Yet, other states are following their lead, according to the report.
Since the story broke, Illinois now says that anyone in the state who had direct contact with a person infected with the Ebola virus while in the three African countries will be required to undergo a mandatory home quarantine of 21 days. That directive came from Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn last Friday. Like Cuomo and Christie, Quinn has been challenged for his decision which exceeds federal guidelines concerning the disease. Additionally, Florida announced a 21-day monitoring system, according to ABC News. Florida Gov. Rick Scott ordered monitoring two times per day for anyone returning from places that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention name as Ebola-effected countries, according to the New York Times.
Regarding the pending Hickox lawsuit, Attorney Siegel, who practices civil liberties law, has stated that his client not only does not have any symptoms of Ebola, but she has not tested positive for the virus either. Therefore, there is an issue of constitutional as well as civil liberty rights. The strict new rules regarding Ebola quarantines began the day after it was announced that Craig Spencer, a New York doctor, was diagnosed with the virus in New York. He had just returned from Guinea after treating patients in the country.