Maine In Standoff With Nurse Over Ebola

FORT KENT, Maine (AP) -

Maine health authorities struggled Thursday to reach a compromise with nurse Kaci Hickox that would require her to keep her distance from other people, in the nation’s most closely watched clash between personal freedom and fear of Ebola.

Hickox, 33, stepped out of her home in northern Maine for the second day in a row and went on a morning bike ride, practically daring authorities to go to court to have her confined against her will. However the legal showdown had yet to take place.

Hickox, who returned to the United States last week from treating Ebola victims in West Africa as a volunteer with Doctors Without Borders, has been under what Maine has called a voluntary quarantine at her home.

She has rebelled against the restrictions, saying her rights are being violated and that she is no threat to others because she has no symptoms. She tested negative for Ebola, though it can take days for the virus to reach detectable levels. Her quarantine is scheduled to end Nov. 10.

Gov. Paul LePage said a scaled-down quarantine that was discussed by Hickox’s lawyer and state attorneys would have allowed her to go for walks, runs and bicycle rides while preventing her from going into public places or coming within 3 feet of others.

Around midday, LePage said that the negotiations had gone nowhere.

“I was ready and willing — and remain ready and willing — to reasonably address the needs of health care workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected,” he said.

Hickox returned from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone to become subject to a mandatory quarantine in New Jersey. After an uproar, she was released and traveled more than 600 miles to the small town where she lives.

She said she is following the federal CDC recommendation of daily monitoring for signs of the disease.

An unmarked police cruiser followed Hickox on her hour-long bike ride near her home, but police could not take action to detain her without a court order signed by a judge.