So, here's the latest in the stand-off between Kaci Hickox and Govenor Paul LePage.
Kaci is the young Doctors Without Borders nurse epidemologist who, upon returning to the U.S. after a month of caring for Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, stood up to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie when he tried to keep her confined in a bare, chilly isolation tent dressed in paper scrubs for a 21-day quarantine. Even though she wasn't contagious.
And though Governor Christie backed down and let Kaci go home to Maine when she threatened to sue her way out of that tent, as soon as she arrived home Maine Governor Paul Lepage jumped on the Ebola Hysteria political bandwagon and proclaimed that Kaci was still under quarantine and ordered her to stay isolated inside her house until, well, until he decided that she could come out again, probably sometime after the elections next week. Even though she's not contagious. And had tested negative for the disease. Twice.
Kaci, who has a master's degree in public health and has worked with the Epidemic Intelligence Service of the CDC, explained, for about the dozenth or so time, that Ebola, which can only be spread by direct contact with bodily fluids, is not contagious until an infected person is having symptoms. And she was having no symptoms. She felt fine. Somebody could hug and kiss her and not catch Ebola. She was self-monitoring and taking her temperature twice a day.
And so she stated that on Thursday she intended to defy the governor's quarantine order and leave her house.
In response Governor LePage sent two Maine State Police cars to park in front of her house.
But come yesterday morning, true to her word, Kaci and her boyfriend left her house and bicycled off down the road with the Maine State Police cars taking off after them.
Now, this whole story is far from funny. Kaci Hickox is a courageous young woman who fought the Ebola epidemic on the front lines in West Africa and is now not only standing up for the rights of all health care workers but trying to promote the truth about Ebola in the face of all the panic-inducing misinfomation that's being embraced and promoted by politicians as well as governors across our country, from New York to California.
But even so, just imagining the scene of Kaci and her boyfriend bicycling along down country roads with these two Maine State Police cars slowly following behind them for an hour...you could just see the beleauguered officers talking into their two-way radios: "Person of interest has turned left at intersection of corn and soybean field...person of interest has stopped to look at pumpkin patch..."
I mean, could Saturday Night Live think up better material?
This whole situation has to be driving Kaci Hickox crazy. Not just because of the ordeal that she's going through personally. But because she, an expert in her field, has to listen to all this unscientific ignorance about Ebola being preached as truth by clueless public officials.
Who couldn't possibly be all that clueless.
I mean, look, all I, who couldn't pass a science class to save my life, had to do to find out the facts about Ebola was to type the word into Yahoo and up popped CNN Dr. Sanjay Gupta - who, by the way, wasn't quarantined when he came back from Guinea after once working on an Ebola outbreak there - with all the scientific facts.
Also by the way, has it not occurred to anyone gripped by Ebola hysteria that this disease has been coming and going in Africa since the 1970's and that American health-care workers who've been there caring for Ebola patients in the past have neither been subject to quarantines nor infected the population when they returned to the U.S.?
Anyway, Governor Lepage has decided that the Maine State Police are no longer parked in front of Kaci Hickox's house to keep her from leaving. Yesterday afternoon he made a statement to NBC news reporters that the police were there to protect her.
"She can go out of the house," he said, sounding like the soul of patience, "but we can't protect her if she does that." His words dripped sincerity. "The last thing I want is for her to get hurt. But by the same token her behavior is really riling a lot of people up."
Not his behavior, of course.
He then added a word of warning: "Tempers get flairy when people get scared."
Which is why it would be nice if public officials like himself who are in a position to do so would work to calm people's fears through scientific facts instead of fanning them through ignorance.
And though Governor Lepage promised, "I am gonna use the legal provision to the fullest extent that the law allows me" against Kaci Hickox if she did not abide by his quarantine, he also added, "If it was my call I'd escort her and buy her a one-way ticket home."
Nice words for a governor to say about a brave, selfless nurse who's spent her young life so far caring for the poorest of her brothers and sisters on this planet.
Almost as nice as what Chris Christie said when he was told that Kaci was going to take legal action for her release from her isolation tent.
"Get in line! I'm happy to take it on!"
That's what Goliath said about David.
1. "Christie on Facing Quarantine Suit: ‘Whatever, Get in Line’", NBC news, October 28, 2014
2. "Should Ebola Nurse Be In Quarantine?", CNN news, October 30, 2014
3. "Kaci Hickox's Wild Ride", Cnn news, October 30, 2014
4. "Maine Gov: The Police Are There To Protect Kaci Hickox", nbcnews.com, October 30, 2014