Attorneys for nurse Kaci Hickox said Monday morning they had reached a settlement with the state over the state’s efforts to restrict Hickox’s movements.
The two sides agreed to abide by the restrictions put in place by a district court judge Friday that Hickox will submit to daily monitoring of her health, inform state health officials if she travels to ensure uninterrupted monitoring, and keep officials apprised if her health changes. Those restrictions were to be temporary until a full hearing in court in Bangor on Tuesday.
Under the settlement reached Monday, the judge’s restrictions will remain in effect until Nov. 10, which is 21 days after her last exposure to the Ebola virus.
Tim Feeley, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office, which argued the case that Hickox should be confined from public exposure with more stringent restrictions, declined to comment on the resolution.
“All I can do is say the order speaks for itself,” Feeley said, citing state confidentiality laws.
Feeley said Attorney General Janet Mills stood by her Friday statement in which she said she was pleased with the judge’s temporary ruling.
“I believe we must do everything in our power not to fan the flames of fear but to encourage public health professionals such as Kaci Hickox to continue their brave humanitarian work to control this deadly disease and to welcome them home when they return,” Mills said in Friday’s statement.
One of Hickox’s attorneys, Eric Saunders, said Monday morning that he was satisfied with the resolution, adding that court-ordered restrictions against Hickox will expire at 11:59 p.m. on Nov. 10.
“I don’t want to characterize it as win-lose. I think the state was searching for a resolution that would protect the public, and we were searching for a resolution that would protect Kaci’s civil rights. I think we reached some common ground,” said Saunders, of the Portland firm Bernstein Shur. Hickox was also represented New York-based attorneys after she was initially held in quarantine several day in New Jersey after she returned from Sierra Leone on Oct 24.
Adrienne Bennett, a spokeswoman for Gov. Paul LePage, said the governor had no further comment than what he has already stated. LePage is seeking re-election on Tuesday in what political observers believe to be in a close race.
The University of Maine at Fort Kent, where Wilbur is a nursing student, had requested that he not attend classes because some other students expressed concern that he might have been exposed to the virus because he has been with Hickox, according to Wilbur.
Wilbur said by text message on Monday that he wasn’t allowed to return to his classes Monday but that he is negotiating with university officials now about when he can return.
“They said I could return but that the students needed to be warned first so they could avoid classes if they don’t want to be near me,” Wilbur said.
Wilbur said his next classes are Thursday. He added that he and Hickox were able to vote Monday by absentee ballot in advance of Tuesday’s election.
Ray Phinney, the university’s associate dean of student life and development and who has been acting as a spokesman, did not return a phone call and email seeking further details.
One of Hickox’s lawyers, Steve Hyman, said there’s no reason Wilbur should be barred from campus, and attorneys plan to talk to him to see what he plans to do until Nov. 10, when the restrictions on Hickox are lifted.
The case has been closely watched by health care workers and policymakers because it is the nation’s first legal challenge to restrictions some states have imposed on people coming into the United States from the Ebola-affected countries of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, where Hickox volunteered with Doctors Without Borders. Maine health officials had been trying to require Hickox to abide by an in-home quarantine since Tuesday, but relaxed the proposed restrictions slightly in the petition, which does not reference quarantine.
Chief District Court Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere on Friday rejected the state’s argument that Hickox posed a public health threat and should be prevented from leaving her house in Fort Kent or interacting with the public.
Scott Dolan can be reached at 791-6304 or at: