Doctors Without Borders nurse Kaci Hickox will disobey a 21-day quarantine meant to keep her isolated during Ebola's potential incubation period.
Hickox tested negative for Ebola when she arrived at Newark, New Jersey, airport and has since returned to her hometown in Maine. She told Today's Matt Lauer she won't follow Maine's guidelines to remain in self-quarantine because she hasn't shown any symptoms for the disease — not even a fever — since she returned from Sierra Leone.
"I truly believe that this policy is not scientifically nor constitutionally just," Hickox said. "I am not going to sit around and be bullied by politicians and forced to stay in my home when I am not a risk to the American public."
Hickox clarified that she would take steps to isolate herself if she began showing symptoms. Ebola patients are only contagious when they show symptoms, and they become more contagious as the disease progresses.
The concern with mandatory quarantines, as Vox's Sarah Kliff previously explained, is that they'll discourage sorely needed health workers from volunteering in West Africa. "If you make people lose 21 days of contact, with their family, with their work and with their pay, that's a huge barrier and discouragement for people to go abroad in the first place," Michael Klag, dean of Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Kliff.
Hickox agreed the quarantine policies will have a chilling effect on volunteers. But for her, it's a matter of when, not if, she'll return to the region. "I would go back," she said. "This has been a bit of a nightmare for me, but my work at Sierra Leone for four weeks was amazing. And I feel privileged to have been able to help fight this battle."