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Maine Judge Rejects Ebola Quarantine for Nurse

Less than a day after restricting the movements of a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa, a judge in Maine has lifted the measures, rejecting arguments by the State of Maine that a quarantine was necessary to protect the public.

Within an hour of the decision, state troopers who had been parked outside the nurse’s house for days had left.

The order, signed on Friday by Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere, the chief judge for the Maine District Courts who serves in Kennebec and Somerset counties, said the nurse, Kaci Hickox, “currently does not show symptoms of Ebola and is therefore not infectious.”

The order requires Ms. Hickox to submit to daily monitoring for symptoms, to coordinate her travel with state health officials, and to notify them immediately if symptoms appear. Ms. Hickox has agreed to follow the requirements.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, at a news conference on Sunday, have both said that solving the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is necessary to protect Americans.

Ms. Hickox’s lawyers said the decision is likely to end a standoff between the nurse, who has resisted being quarantined on the grounds that she is not symptomatic for Ebola, and the state authorities, who say that a quarantine is needed to ensure the public’s safety.

The lawyers said there may be a further hearing on the issue on Tuesday, but said they do not expect it to change how things stand.

In a statement, Gov. Paul R. LePage, a Republican, called the decision “unfortunate.”

“My duty to protect the health of the individual, as well as the health and safety of 1.3 million Mainers, is my highest priority,” Governor LePage said. “Despite our best effort to work collaboratively with this individual, she has refused to cooperate with us.”

“The judge has eased restrictions with this ruling and I believe it is unfortunate,” he added. “However, the State will abide by law.”

Maine had pushed for Ms. Hickox to abide by what it considers an “in home” quarantine, based on guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Under those guidelines, anyone who has had direct exposure to Ebola should, during the 21-day incubation period of the virus, be monitored daily by health officials, coordinate travel with the authorities, stay away from public places and gatherings, not go to work, and maintain a three-foot distance from others.

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Royce Christyn
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