State-imposed quarantines for health workers who return from helping Ebola patients are driven by “an abundance of politics,” defiant nurse Kaci Hickox told NBC News’ Meet The Press on Sunday.
Hickox had a public spat with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie last week after enduring a weekend in an isolation tent near the airport in Newark where she returned from Sierra Leone.
“When Gov. Christie stated that it was an abundance of caution, which is his reasoning for putting health care workers in a sort of quarantine for three weeks, it was really an abundance of politics,” she told Chuck Todd. “And I think all of the scientific and medical and public health community agrees with me on that statement."
A judge in Maine ruled Friday that Hickox can come and go as she pleases, as long as she is monitored for symptoms and lets health officials know where she’s going. The same judge had issued a temporary order on Thursday night ordering Hickox to stay at least three feet away from other people and to stay away from crowds and public transportation.
“We don't know … everything in the world. But we know a lot about Ebola,” Hickox said on Meet The Press. “We have been researching this disease for 38 years, since its first appearance in Africa. And we know how the infection is transmitted from person to person. And we know that it's not transmitted from someone who is asymptomatic, as I am and many other aid workers will be when they return.”
She also apologized to her local community in Maine, which she acknowledged “has been through a lot in the past week,” adding: “I will not go into town, into crowded public places. You know, I have had a few friends come visit me in my home and that's absolutely fantastic.”
The nurse returned from Africa a week ago. She has maintained that authorities in Maine violated her rights by demanding that she stay at home for 21 days. She took a defiant bike rideon Thursday.
In a separate interview with the Maine Sunday Telegram newspaper, Hickox told how she spent her last night in Sierra Leone trying to save the life of a young girl suffering from Ebola. “I don’t remember her exact age. I think she was 10, but to watch a 10-year-old die alone, in a tent and know there wasn’t anything you could do … it’s hard,” she told the newspaper.
Shawna Thomas contributed to this report.