- The Washington Times - Monday, October 27, 2014

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie announced Monday his state will release the nurse who had been quarantined in a tent next to a Newark hospital upon returning from Ebola-stricken West Africa.

A private carrier will take Kaci Hickox back to her home in Maine, the Republican governor’s administration said.

Ms. Hickox, 33, openly criticized her treatment at Newark Liberty International Airport and the conditions of her 21-day quarantine under a new order from Mr. Christie that governs people who enter New Jersey from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea and show symptoms. Those who do not show symptoms or who do live in the Garden State may quarantine at home.

“Our preference always is to have people quarantined in their homes,” Mr. Christie said Monday. “Now in this instance, it wasn’t possible because given her condition at the time and the fact that [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] and New Jersey agreed she needed to be tested, then we needed to keep her in New Jersey.”

Ms. Hickox registered a fever at the airport, but she has alleged that may have been a false reading because her face was flushed and she had a normal temperature later on.

She hired an attorney, Norman Siegel, who called the quarantine “overly broad” and threatened to sue, particularly since Ms. Hickox had not tested positive for Ebola after her return from Sierra Leone, where she treated patients in coordination with Doctors Without Borders.

“Since testing negative for Ebola early Saturday morning, the patient being monitored in isolation has thankfully been symptom free for the last 24 hours,” the New Jersey Department of Health said Monday. “After being evaluated by CDC and her clinicians, the patient is being discharged.”

The agency said Ms. Hickox is technically still subject to a mandatory New Jersey quarantine order, but can return home.

“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 department said.

While Maine does not have quarantine rules in place, Gov. Paul LePage’s office said Saturday that it is monitoring anyone who returns from West Africa for 21 days — the incubation period for Ebola. It said they are monitoring one traveler, although the person has no symptoms and did not come in contact with an Ebola patient.

CNN reported at midday Monday that the U.S. military is considering quarantine measure for troops who return from the Ebola fight in West Africa. President Obama has dedicated up to 3,000 soldiers to the effort, raising questions about how they will be protected and then monitored when they return.

On the home front, the New Jersey Health Department defended its treatment of Ms. Hickox, saying she had been in a heated tent with access to a computer, cell phone, reading material and “nourishment of choice.”

Mr. Christie, a potential presidential candidate in 2016, had been under pressure by medical experts to soften his approach to the quarantine.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, said late Sunday that people subject to his state’s quarantine could spend it at home.

The new rules were in response to patient Craig Spencer, a doctor who tested positive for Ebola after returning to New York City after working with patients in West Africa. He self-monitored for symptoms and checked himself in after showing a fever, although he had been out and about the city in the preceding days.

Officials said Monday another New Yorker, a 5-year-old boy, was being tested for the virus after showing symptoms. His family had returned from Guinea over the weekend.

Hours later, Mayor Bill de Blasio clarified the Big Apple’s policy for travelers returning from West Africa. If a regular citizen or health care worker came into contact with an infected person and shows symptoms of Ebola, he or she will be taken to the emergency room. If the traveler has no symptoms, the person will go into home quarantine for 21 days.

However, a person returning from West Africa who has not been in contact with infected people can “go about their lives,” but under daily monitoring by city health officials.

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