FORT KENT, Maine — The neighborhood surrounding the home where Kaci Hickox is staying quieted substantially Saturday, as members of the media started packing up and heading home.
Hickox, who recently returned to the U.S. after treating patients suffering from Ebola in Sierra Leone, has yet to leave the Fort Kent property since a district judge decided the state could not restrict her movements or prevent her from going out in public.
At 9 a.m. Saturday, a white sport utility vehicle driven by Fort Kent Police Chief Tom Pelletier rolled into the driveway of the home where Hickox is staying with her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur. Pelletier and an unidentified Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention employee stepped out and walked around to the back porch to speak with Hickox and Wilbur.
“[Hickox] is working in good faith with the professional health care workers,” Pelletier told the media as he and the CDC staffer returned to the SUV a few minutes later.
Pelletier said he has kept communication open with the couple, who, in spite of the court decision, said they do not plan on going into town to shop or eat.
“They understand the sentiment in the community, and they do not want to be disruptive,” Pelletier said.
“I believe them,” he added. “The governor has made some statements that have not helped us keep civility in the town.”
Gov. Paul LePage expressed disappointment with the judge’s decision Friday, saying the state would nonetheless abide by law.
“She’s violated every promise she’s made so far, so I can’t trust her,” he said Friday, answering reporters’ questions after a news conference celebrating a business opening in Yarmouth. “I don’t trust her.”
Pelletier declined to say what Hickox told the CDC employee, but the police chief said when he asked how Hickox was doing, she responded, “great.”
The area around the home was significantly quieter Saturday than it has been for the majority of the week. National news network crews started checking out of their hotels Friday night, after a district court judge decided the state’s attempts to restrict Hickox’s movements were excessive and not justifiable because she has shown no symptoms of the disease and thus cannot transmit it to others.
More than 30 media vehicles and satellite trucks were parked along the street Thursday and Friday. Early Saturday, about 10 vehicles and one satellite truck remained. The last satellite truck, CNN’s, left at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday. An ABC crew based out of Boston packed up to return home after a 7 a.m. shot for Saturday’s “Good Morning America” broadcast.
Chief Judge Charles LaVerdiere ruled Friday the Maine Department of Health and Human Services failed to prove that limiting Hickox’s movements was necessary to protect others from the danger of infection. Hickox has no symptoms of the virus.
The judge expressed appreciation for Hickox’s care of “individuals stricken with a terrible disease,” writing that “we owe her and all professionals who give of themselves in this way a debt of gratitude.”
Several people in Fort Kent have expressed concerns about whether Hickox and her boyfriend would go into town. Others have questioned why Hickox challenged the state’s proposed home quarantine if she wasn’t planning on going out into public.
Under the current order filed in Fort Kent District Court, Hickox must continue, as she has already agreed, to submit to regular monitoring, including daily temperature and symptom checks and visits by public health authorities. She also must coordinate any travel with the state and immediately notify health officials if she develops symptoms.
As of 11 a.m. Saturday, Hickox had not gone to a public setting. She and Wilbur went for a bicycle ride Thursday morning, a walk around the neighborhood Friday night and she has come out of the house on occasion to speak with the media.
BDN writer Julia Bayly contributed to this report.