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Public Attack On Kaci Hickox Sets Stage For Future Pandemic Prisons

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Public Attack On Kaci Hickox Sets Stage For Future Pandemic Prisons
Ironically, it wasn’t Kaci Hickox coming to my home state of Maine that scared me the most — it was the public sentiment about how a person potentially exposed to the Ebola virus should be treated.

As Kaci Hickox made her way from New Jersey up to my own childhood stomping grounds of Fort Kent, I monitored my Facebook page for reaction from friends and family who were still living there. What I saw frightened me.

I saw people accusing her of not loving her boyfriend, being a bad nurse, and much worse. There were people who wrote that they wanted to see her dead. All because a nurse, who understood the Ebola virus better than anyone else in Northern Maine, knew it was safe to go home and decided to do so.

However, if you take the single case of Kaci Hickox, and you multiply it out into the hundreds or thousands, it becomes very clear – and extremely scary – what the situation would look like in America if the country was faced with a real pandemic situation.

Exposed Victims Ostracized

In countless comments from resident healthcare workers from the area, Kaci was demonized for not taking the public’s health into consideration.

The truth was that Kaci returned home from her humanitarian effort in Africa fighting Ebola only to discover that the rules had changed. The health experts at Doctors Without Borders had set up guidelines for the diligent health monitoring of returnees using self-monitoring for fever and other symptoms – guidelines that have worked for years during the organization’s past efforts to fight Ebola.

What Kaci returned home to was a new rule created by the States that was based more on public fear than on sound science.

Prison for Potentially Exposed

In a situation that would have Alex-Jones conspiracy-theorist nutjobs congratulating themselves over an accurate prediction of the future, Kaci was brought from the airport and put into an unheated tent just outside University Hospital in Newark. She was the first person placed under such “lock-down” quarantine under the new rules, and it would become a landmark moment that could define how all future potentially-exposed aid workers (and citizens) might be treated.

kaci hickox quarantine tent

The National Institutes of Health director of infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, called the action “draconian” when interviewed on “Meet the Press”. The medical experts at Doctors Without Borders wrote on its website that the U.S. regulations would do much more harm than good.

“Any regulation not based on scientific medical grounds, which would isolate healthy aid workers, will very likely serve as a disincentive to others to combat the epidemic at its source, in West Africa.” (1)

The article on DWB went on to explain that medical science knows very well that Ebola is not contagious – even when a person is infected with it – until the person shows symptoms. Asymptomatic people can not transmit the illness, because it is not present in the bloodstream yet – it’s in the organs.

“Medical science has demonstrated that asymptomatic people with Ebola infection do not transmit the virus. Ebola is also not an airborne virus, like cold or flu viruses. It is only transmitted through direct contact with an infected, symptomatic person’s body fluids, such as blood, vomit, and feces.” (1)

Kaci’s actions displayed that she knew far more about the disease than the Northern Maine healthcare workers attacking her, more than the State’s leadership, and certainly more than both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie or Maine Governor Paul LePage.

She immediately set out to change the new politically and fear-drive rules, so that any of her medical colleagues returning from Africa would not face the same sort of treatment that she did.

A Future Citizen Prison

For years, crazy conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones have been painting a picture of a government-fabricated pandemic that would allow the incarceration of American citizens in over 800 alleged “prison camps” across the country.


The theory is that FEMA would place millions of Americans into these “concentration camps” after Martial Law is declared in the U.S. It is a theory largely viewed as completely ludicrous by the larger population, but events surrounding Kaci’s prison-like lockdown revealed exactly how the government could get away with stripping the civil rights away from all “potentially exposed” citizens – placing them into these prison camps for the “protection of the larger population”.

In fact, many of the public statements I read over the last few weeks made it very clear that citizens in the United States seem more than willing to overlook the civil liberties of a fellow citizen, if it means that they themselves might be protected from a deadly virus — making the threat of a virus the perfect vehicle for the government to circumvent the Constitution. And the government would have the full support of “healthy” citizens, looking to it for protection.

Some examples of some very scary comments I read over the last few weeks:

“…it’s [the isolation conditions] better than potentially spreading the virus.”

“…as a medical caregiver, isn’t there some oath taken to protect the health of others or something?”

“…but protocols are in place to prevent the spread, people should follow them.”

“Protocols are put for a reason and we need to follow them…”

“…I can’t believe the disreguard [sic] for safety because 1 person is lonesome.”

“It would be extremely selfish and irresponsible if they didn’t quarantine themselves.”

“…definitely will not help her get a job when she can’t do what she is being told to do by the CDC.”

“She would have been my hero had she stayed in quarantine…”

“But this person that calls herself a Nurse is a disgrace to the Profession…”

“She should be viewed as a threat to public health and treated as such.”

“*AHEM* it’s deer season…just sayin’!”

“Is it ideal to be quarantined…..probably not, but why risk infecting a loved one?”

“She has no right to risk our lives. 21 days with cell phone, TV, & communication with loved ones is not asking too much for the safety of her fellow Americans ”

“Why not keep her where she is until they are SURE!!!! Why risk everyone with this.”

“She would’ve been better served by just doing the time…”

These are statements from seemingly rational people who normally would probably never consider stripping freedom or liberty from an American citizen, but when you place the fear of contracting a deadly virus into the picture – all of that goes out the window. People are more than willing to quarantine their fellow citizens, if it means that it keeps them safe from infection.

Asymptomatic Means Not Contagious

The irony is that Kaci posed no threat to the public at any point in time, because she was asymptomatic. Kaci explained this clearly in a recent interview with NBC News.

“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. And I think all of the scientific and medical and public health community agrees with me on that statement.”

On that, Kaci would be partially correct. There were actually countless members of the public health community in Northern Maine, lambasting her over the decision to fight the 21 day mandatory quarantine. However, scientific and medical experts elsewhere with much more experience dealing with the Ebola virus, definitely stood on the side of Kaci Hickox.

For example, Dr. Elke Muhlberger, an associate professor of microbiology at Boston University, and a 20-year expert in dealing with the Ebola virus, told Boston’s WBUR that the problem with the spread of Ebola isn’t transmission rates, but the poor infrastructure in Africa when dealing with patients who are already showing symptoms.

…from experience, we know that this virus is not transmitted early in infection. If the viral titers are very low, if you’re not able to detect free viruses in the blood, then it seems Ebola virus is not transmitted to other people. Which is very good because, theoretically, that makes it really easy to control Ebola virus infection. And the reason why we have such a disaster right now, with almost 10,000 infected in West Africa and more than 4,000 already dead, is not so much the transmissibility of Ebola but rather the lack of infrastructure in these countries. (2)

Dr. Muhlberger went on to explain why diseases like Measles are so easy to transmit, while Ebola isn’t. Those diseases can be transmitted before symptoms show up, while Ebola can’t.

When someone is infected with measles and then sneezes or coughs, and is not sick at this point, they can transmit the virus to others and you’re not even aware that someone with the disease is contacting you. […] When Ebola virus patients start to transmit the virus, they have already developed a fever and are obviously sick. (2)


A team of doctors published an article titled “Ebola and Quarantine” in The New England Journal of Medicine, where they lambasted the new State guidelines for a mandatory 21 day quarantine as unwise.

This approach, however, is not scientifically based, is unfair and unwise, and will impede essential efforts to stop these awful outbreaks of Ebola disease at their source, which is the only satisfactory goal. (3)

The doctors went on to explain the science – that even if infected with the virus, a person can not be contagious until they are actually showing symptoms. This fact has been proven in the field.

This recognition has led to the dictum that an asymptomatic person is not contagious; field experience in West Africa has shown that conclusion to be valid. Therefore, an asymptomatic health care worker returning from treating patients with Ebola, even if he or she were infected, would not be contagious. (3)

If that’s not enough evidence that the medical and scientific community stands beside Kaci Hickox, then take a look at a statement on October 27th on Medpage Today by Dr. Jeffrey Duchin, the chair of the public health committee of the Infectious Diseases Society of America:

“Persons who don’t have symptoms [of Ebola] don’t spread disease. Once symptoms develop, patients can be isolated and [providers can] determine at that point whether they have Ebola.” (4)

As you seek out input from other scientists and medical experts throughout the community who are very familiar with the Ebola virus, the answers are always the same – and align with Kaci Hickox’s position.

Judge Rules Against Quarantine

Of course, the final feather in Kaci’s hat – proving that all this time that she has been right all along – was the decision by a Maine Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere on Friday, October 31st.

In his decision, the judge ruled that the mandatory quarantine proposed by Governors Christie and LePage would not stand up in court.

The judge said in the ruling that many people were acting out of irrational fear.

“The court is fully aware that people are acting out of fear and that this fear is not entirely rational.”

I will say that for my part, I shared the early stages of irrational fear that everyone else did. I knew little about Ebola, except that if you contracted it, you had about a 50% chance of dying. That’s scary. I even wrote an article about what I suspected could become a massive Ebola pandemic!

However, what Kaci Hickox’s stance helped me to do was to better research the science behind Ebola. What I discovered was that in America – the odds of things getting as bad as they are in Africa is next to zero. The fact that people without symptoms can’t even transmit the virus to anyone – even if they’re infected – is especially reassuring.

I only hope that the reaction of the Northern Maine community – a place I still consider home – doesn’t paint the area in an inaccurate light in the end. These are all very good people – they are just scared, just like everyone else in this country.

What the judgement should do is encourage more people to reach out to legitimate medical and scientific resources – NOT or – and come up to speed on this virus and the amazing work that healthcare professionals like Kaci Hickox are doing to help rid our planet of it.

I believe, in the end, Kaci will emerge from this situation as a hero who improved the conditions that her colleagues still in Africa will return to in the U.S., and her court case will be held up in the future as a landmark civil liberties victory, once the time comes that there is a very real pandemic, and the government wants to start locking up more of us, “for the good of everyone.”

Remember – some day, it could be you who faces quarantine. You will be glad that Kaci’s case will force the authorities to use science, rather than fear, when that time comes.

References & Image Credits:
(1) Doctors Without Borders
(2) WBUR Boston
(3) New England Journal of Medicine
(4) MedPage Today
(5) FTN News

Originally published on

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During the 2014 outbreak of Ebola, people in West Africa’s affected regions (Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea) were fearful of the medical teams that came to assist.They hid their [...]

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