January 19, 2020
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Kaci Hickox, state agree to make temporary order permanent; hearings this week canceled

Nurse Kaci Hickox (left) joined by her boyfriend Ted Wilbur, speaks with the media outside of their home in Fort Kent on Oct. 31.

BANGOR, Maine — Attorneys for nurse Kaci Hickox and the state have agreed that the temporary court order issued Friday by a Maine District Court judge will remain in place until 11:59 p.m. Monday, Nov. 10, when the 21-day incubation period for Ebola expires.

Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere signed the order Monday morning. It was posted on the court system’s website.

The evidentiary hearing that was scheduled to be held Tuesday and Wednesday at the Penobscot Judicial Center has been canceled, the order said.

Hickox, 33, of Fort Kent must continue, as she had already agreed, to submit to regular monitoring, including daily temperature and symptom checks and visits by public health authorities, according to the order, filed in Fort Kent District Court and posted on the court system’s website due to the interest by national media. She also must coordinate any travel with the state and immediately notify health officials if she develops symptoms, the order said.

Efforts to reach Hickox on Monday were unsuccessful.
“That’s fantastic,” her boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, 39, of Fort Kent called the decision in a telephone interview.

“We are very pleased with this resolution,” Hickox’s attorney Eric Saunders of Portland said Monday morning. “It was a negotiated resolution, which are generally the best.”

The attorney, who worked pro bono, or, without a fee on the case, said the decision applies only to Hickox and not to anyone else returning from treating Ebola patients in Africa.

Saunders said that Hickox and the Maine attorney general’s office, which filed the suit on behalf of Mary Mayhew, commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services, agreed to make the temporary order permanent.

Timothy Feeley, spokesman for the attorney general declined to comment Monday.

Attorney General Janet Mills issued a statement Friday, when the temporary order was made public. Feeley said that statement applied to Monday’s decision as well.

“I am especially pleased that a well-respected member of the Maine judiciary crafted an order based on medical science, an order that accommodates the important constitutional liberty interests of the individual and the public interest in minimizing any potential risk of a disease such as Ebola,” she said in a statement released late Friday afternoon.

Maine became the first state in the nation to go to court to enforce restrictions on an individual potentially exposed to Ebola, according to the Maine chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

“The Maine court’s decision squarely recognized what the medical community has said about severe restrictions on people’s liberties not being justified at this time,” Alison Beyea, executive director, said Monday. “It should be precedent setting if not in fact than in spirit.”

Hickox tested negative for Ebola after returning two weeks ago from working for Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone. She also objected when the state of New Jersey put her into isolation when she arrived at Newark airport.

The confrontation between Hickox and officials in Maine has become the focal point of a dispute pitting several U.S. states opting for strict quarantines against the federal government, which opposes such measures. It also brought the national media to Fort Kent, whose trucks lined the road where the couple rented a house.

Wilbur said Monday morning that the reporters, photographers and television trucks have left.

“The snow drove them away,” he joked.

BDN writers Julia Bayley and Jackie Farwell contributed to this report.

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