Somebody in Chris Christie's corner must have convinced him that holding an Ebola-asymptomatic nurse in a hastily-organized and inadequate tent outside a Jersey hospital was probably a political liability. In a reversal from his strongly-worded defense of his decision to trap her in a tent in New Jersey for 21 days, nurse Kaci Hickox will be going home to Maine. She has tested negative for Ebola twice. She has no fever. (Let the hysteria along I-95 begin.)
Of course, it could also have been her widely-reported threat to sue. Or the photos of her living conditions — portable toilet, no shower, no TV — the last 3 days. Or the fact that she spoke out on national TV Sunday that her rights were being violated by Governor Christie. Her boyfriend, a nursing student in Maine, said she decided to speak out after Christie defended the quarantine by saying she was "obviously ill" when she, a medical professional, knew she was not.
Hickox, who shows zero symptoms of infection with the Ebola virus, is expected to be released today, after details are worked out for her transfer. Hickox is 33, and returned through Newark Airport from treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone with Doctors Without Borders. In a first-person account for the Dallas Morning News, —in the city which saw the only Ebola death in the U.S. and the state where she was educated — Hickox recounted a chaotic scene at Newark Liberty Airport and the certainty of doctors at University Hospital in Newark who knew pretty quickly that she was negative for Ebola, and had no fever.
The White House pushed back on New Jersey's mandatory quarantine rules over the weekend. Cue the right-wing freakout over Kaci Hickox's personal politics. Fear-mongering bests science for these folks every time.
Meanwhile, the United Nations' Ebola chief spoke out on the dangers of hasty and hysterical quarantines:
"Decisions (on quarantine) should be based on science and fact and not hype and hysteria and decisions should be taken in a way that will promote the most rapid, effective response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa possible," Anthony Banbury, head of the U.N. Ebola Emergency Response Mission (UNMEER), told Reuters.
"Anything that will dissuade foreign trained personnel from coming here to West Africa and joining us on the frontline to fight the fight would be very, very unfortunate," he said in an interview.