Kaci Hickox took her campaign against an Ebola quarantine out for a spin on Thursday.
The Maine nurse, openly defying an order to stay home after she treated patients in West Africa, sped off on a bike ride on a sunny morning with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur. She returned after about an hour.
“I hope that we can continue negotiations and work this out amicably,” Hickox told reporters. “There is no legal action against me, so I’m free to go on a bike ride in my hometown.”
Authorities in Maine are pursuing a court order to enforce the quarantine through Nov. 10. Hickox says she is completely healthy and free of symptoms, and that the quarantine is unnecessary and unconstitutional.
Several hours after the bike outing, Gov. Paul LePage said that efforts to negotiate with Hickox had failed. Citing confidentiality laws, he did not specify his next steps. But his office pledged in a statement: “The governor will exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law.”
In an interview with NBC affiliate WSCH, LePage suggested it was all right for Hickox to leave home, as long as she doesn’t touch anyone or go into a public establishment. He said a police cruiser outside the home was there for Hickox’s protection.
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“Her behavior is really riling a lot of people up,” he said.
He said he hoped for legal clarification later in the day on enforcing restrictions on her movement. The governor said he was looking out for the 1.3 million people of Maine.
“I don’t want her within three feet of anyone,” he said.
President Barack Obama was in Maine on Thursday to campaign for Democrats, including the one trying to unseat LePage next week. A spokesman knew of no plans for Obama and LePage to meet. The president had no plans to meet Hickox.
Hickox was kept in an isolation tent for three days after she returned to the United States last week. New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie let her go on Monday, and she was driven to Maine, which imposed its own quarantine.
Some states have gone further than federal health officials and ordered quarantines for health workers returning from Ebola-stricken countries in Africa, even when they show no symptoms and therefore would not be contagious anyway.
Late Wednesday night, with a state trooper looking on, Hickox stepped outside the house in Fort Kent where she has been holed up. She said: “I’m not willing to stand here and let my civil rights be violated when it’s not science-based.”
— Stephanie Gosk and Erin McClam