Obama Leaves Maine Without Meeting Defiant Quarantine Nurse
President Obama campaigned in Maine yesterday, but didn't meet with the nurse who treated Ebola in Sierra Leone yet refuses to stay in her home for the 21-day quarantine.
Kaci Hickox is supposed to be under quarantine until Nov. 10. She spent 72 hours isolated in New Jersey after flying into the country, and was released to go back to her Maine town of Fort Kent.
She went for a bike ride yesterday, and Gov. Paul LePage said "her behavior is really riling a lot of people up."
"What the CDC has indicated is that these risk assessments should be performed to determine what sort of risk individuals pose to others in the community. And then that also should guide the degree to which the health of that individual is monitored upon their return for three weeks," White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One yesterday.
"That guidance has been shared by the CDC to state and local officials who ultimately are responsible for putting in place policies that they believe are in the best interest of protecting their citizens. And, again, we believe that those decisions should be driven by science, but ultimately it's state and local officials that have the authority for implementing these policies," Earnest said.
"So what I can tell you about the situation as it relates to Ms. Hickox is that officials at the CDC who are experts in this field have been in regular touch with public health officials in Maine who are responsible for setting the policies in the state of Maine. That is at it should be. And the President believes that the scientific expertise that has been amassed at the CDC should be freely shared with state and local officials in Maine. He also believes that those officials in Maine should be guided by the science as they implement the policy that they believe is in the best interest of the people of their state."
Earnest said Obama doesn't support Hickox defying the quarantine order, but "recognizes that it's state officials' responsibility to implement these policies."
He added he's "not in a position to render a judgment" on whether Maine's policies are "guided by the science."
Obama was campaigning for Rep. Mike Michaud (D-Maine) in a toss-up race to oust LePage.
Earnest said there have "certainly not" been conversations between Obama and LePage about Hickox. "I'm not aware of any conversations from anybody at the White House with Ms. Hickox, and I don't know of any plans at this point to place any calls," he said.
Obama will give an economic speech in Rhode Island today before flying back to Washington to welcome trick-or-treaters at the White House.