Kaci Hickox’s restricted travel has now grabbed the front pages and the 7/24 news outlets. The story is perfect for the news media. It requires no intelligence or thought. It simply requires someone to hold an opinion. Is this nurse a public enemy?
Ms Hickox presents a great face for women, and for informed public health. There is no PC with Ms Hickox. She seeks no favors from the public trough and is prepared to stand her ground. Her defense, modern science and recent experience.
Medical experts have said that Ebola is not contagious until the onset of symptoms. Even then, there is a view that during the initial onset, like not feeling well or the first recognition of fever, someone is still not contagious. It is only when the full presentation of symptoms where bodily fluids (vomit, spit, and diarrhea) come in contact with another unprotected person is there a chance to spread Ebola.
Ms Hickox apparently is confident she will recognize the onset and until then she feels she should be free to move around. Hmmm.
Maine public health officials have asked Ms Hickox to voluntarily isolate herself for 21 days. Ms Hickox has said no thanks. So what might be next?
Most likely the Maine Public Health officials will appeal to a court that Ms Hickox must be forcibly restrained. The Court will decide not on the merits but rather that the Maine Public Health organization has the regulatory power to order restraint. Hmmm.
Next, Ms Hickox side will sue the State of Maine claiming they had instituted controls not justified by the science involved (over stepped their authority). Before long one of two things will occur. Ms Hickox will come down with full blown Ebola, or the 21 days will pass with no occurrence. Maine will in that case offer to drop their charges if Ms Hickox does the same. Hmmm.
The US Ebola scare is a dry run for what might happen if we experience a real influenza outbreak.
There is a clear difference at the extremes between individual civil rights and protection of the population at large. This difference becomes harder to recognize the closer to the center one gets. Common sense and thankfully modern science can resolve this conundrum.
Unfortunately it will require leaders and not run of the mill politicians to sort this out. Even sadder, the country seems to have an excess of politicians and few leaders.
Thanks to Ms Hickox for again making this clear.