A nurse who was placed under forced quarantine in New Jersey after arriving from West Africa says she will sue the state of NJ.
Despite testing negative for Ebola twice, Kaci Hickox is being held inside a specialized tent at University Hospital in Newark, NJ.
After a doctor tested positive for Ebola in New York, NJ Gov. Chris Christie and NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered mandatory 21-day quarantine restrictions for all health care workers returning from Ebola hot zones.
Hickox, a nurse who worked with Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, happened to land at Newark Liberty Airport on Friday — the same day the mandatory quarantine order went into effect.
She was taken aside by airport officials and, according to Hickox, treated like a “criminal” before being transported to University hospital where she was held for 7 hours.
Officials decided to quarantine Hickox inside the tent after she reportedly refused to quarantine herself at home. She lashed out at her prison conditions as “unacceptable,” saying the tent does not have a shower or flushable toilet.
“This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” Hickox told CNN’s Candy Crowley on Sunday.
According to Christie, Hickox registered a high temperature at the airport. But Hickox denied having a fever. She says Christie is misrepresenting her medical condition.
“First of all, I don’t think he’s a doctor; secondly, he’s never laid eyes on me; and thirdly, I’ve been asymptomatic since I’ve been here,” Hickox told Crowley.
Hickox, who works as an epidemiologist for the CDC in Atlanta, disagreed with Gov. Christie’s assessment of her as “obviously ill.”
“I’m sorry, but that’s just a completely unacceptable statement in my opinion. For (Christie) — a politician who’s trusted and respected — to make a statement that’s categorically not true is just unacceptable and appalling.”
Hickox has hired a well-known civil rights attorney to assist her in filing a lawsuit against the city for violating her civil rights.
“To put me in prison,” she said, “is just inhumane.” But both governors defended their decision to protect their city’s residents from arrogant health care workers who won’t quarantine themselves.
So far 7 of the 8 known cases of Ebola in the United States have been health care workers — some of whom ventured out into public and used mass transit while knowingly running fevers.
On Sunday night, Governors Christie and Cuomo loosened their mandatory quarantine restrictions following intense pressure from the Obama administration.
The new policy allows health care workers to serve out their 21-day quarantine at home if they are not symptomatic.
Update: Ebola nurse Kaci Hickox will be released from her tent prison at University hospital in New Jersey, ABC News reports.
The New Jersey Department of Health issued a statement this morning, saying Hickox has been “symptom free for the last 24 hours,” and she would be discharged after consulting with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Hickox has asked for transport to Maine. Despite not having Ebola, she will be escorted from the hospital under guard and flown to Maine on a private jet “not via mass transit or commercial aircraft,” the department said.
“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,” the New Jersey statement said.
Hickox told CNN she was being held in a “tent structure” outside of University Hospital, “with a port-a-potty like structure and no shower and no connection to the outside world except my iPhone.”