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Judge sides with Maine nurse and rejects Ebola quarantine

Associated Press

FORT KENT, Maine – A Maine judge gave nurse Kaci Hickox the OK to go wherever she pleases, handing state officials a defeat Friday in the nation’s biggest court case yet over how to balance personal liberty, public safety and fear of Ebola.

Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere ruled that Hickox must continue daily monitoring of her health but said there is no need to isolate her or restrict her movements because she has no symptoms and is therefore not contagious.

The judge also decried the “misconceptions, misinformation, bad science and bad information” circulating about the lethal disease in the U.S.

Hickox, 33, called it “a good day” and said her “thoughts, prayers and gratitude” remain with those who are still battling Ebola in West Africa.

Maine health officials had gone to court Thursday in an attempt to bar her from crowded public places and require her to stay at least 3 feet from others until the 21-day incubation period for Ebola was up on Nov. 10. She would have been free to jog or go bike riding.

But the judge turned the state down.

Gov. Paul LePage said he disagreed with the ruling but will abide by it. Officials said there are no plans to appeal.

Later in the day, the governor lashed out at Hickox, saying: “She has violated every promise she has made so far, so I can’t trust her. I don’t trust her. And I don’t trust that we know enough about this disease to be so callous.”

Hickox was thrust into the center of a national debate after she returned to the U.S. last week from treating Ebola victims in West Africa as a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders.

Hickox’s quarantine in Maine – and, before that, in New Jersey, upon her arrival back in the U.S. – led humanitarian groups, the White House and many scientists to warn that automatically quarantining medical workers could discourage volunteers from going to West Africa, where more than 13,500 people have been sickened and nearly 5,000 have died from Ebola.

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