Maine must be an odd state of the United States. It is the most north easterly and perhaps that location affects its judges and the quality of decisions that they dispense.
Kaci Hickcox is a nurse. She brabely and selflessly nursed Ebola ridden people in Sierra leone and after this dangerous and arduous work returned home. On arrival in the United States she was quarantined in New jersey, but then when it was established that she was not infected with Ebola returned to her home in Maine.
In order to protect the 1.3 million citizens of Maine from a disease that Ms Hickcox is not carrying and with which she is not infected, District Court Chief Judge Charles La Verdiere ordered that Ms Hickcox, must submit to direct active monitoring; coordinate her travel with public health authorities; not use public transportation; avoid public places, such as malls and cinemas; avoid workplaces; stay within Fort Kent’s boundaries unless told otherwise; and “maintain a 3-foot distance from others when engaging in non-congregate public activities (i.e., walking or jogging in the park)”.
Presumably the learned Judge did not mean “i.e.” as that would limit those activities to just jogging or walking. Things like sitting in the sunshine (or rain), bicycling, watching the dust settling on the jam jars at the local general store and watching wildlife would all be non-congregate public activities permitted by his order. He probably meant “e.g.” but his panic in the desire to protect the good folk of Maine from Ebola drove him to make a less restrictive order than he meant to make, I suppose.
Ms Hickcox, as a nurse, is perfectly capable of monitoring her health without interference from the State of Maine. No doubt, if she feels ill, she will take appropriate precautions. The learned Judge’s order was not based on rational science but fear. It is almost as though we can hear the Maine authorities crying “don’t panic” as they set about their work in a high state of panic.
In the meantime, the State of Maine sends a message to all humanitarian health workers who volunteer to fight Ebola. That message can be summed up in a single word –“don’t”.