New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whose health officials held an Ebola-free nurse from Maine in quarantine against her will after she arrived from Africa on Friday, told media at a campaign stop in Florida that "when she has time to reflect, she'll understand" why she was deprived of her freedom in the Garden State.
That nurse, Kaci Hickox, was released this afternoon after testing negative for the virus and is headed for another few weeks' isolation at her home in Maine—where she'll probably have more time not only to reflect, but to file a federal lawsuit over her treatment in Jersey, where she felt "like a criminal," according to CBS News.
Hickox had just returned to Newark from working with Doctors Without Borders in Sierra Leone. At the airport, she was held for hours, given an unreliable forehead temperature scan that read 101 degrees, and told she'd be quarantined in a hospital even though every doctor along the way thought she had no signs of a fever. She ended up isolated all weekend, wearing thin paper scrubs in a tent with no heat, no reading material, and a non-flushing toilet.
Christie, who was in Florida Monday to stump for Republican governor and fellow Obamacare opponent Rick Scott, had ordered the precautions to prevent Ebola possibly spreading in New Jersey, even though many experts—including Hickox herself—have expressed skepticism about the measures' usefulness. Christie sounded nothing like a private-sector libertarian in justifying Hickox's quarantine, all but calling her hysterical in her resistance to the incarceration:
"No one ever wants to be in the hospital, I suspect. And, so, I understand that. But, the fact is I have a much greater, bigger responsibility to the people of the public. So, I think when she has time to reflect, she'll understand that, as well."
Hickox—a Johns Hopkins- and University of Texas-educated nurse who's currently being derided as a " rabid leftist" by conservative Ebola alarmists online—sure sounded circumspect over the weekend in criticizing Christie's virus paranoia to CNN:
"First of all, I don't think he's a doctor; secondly, he's never laid eyes on me; and thirdly, I've been asymptomatic since I've been here," Hickox told CNN's Candy Crowley in a phone interview Sunday.
"There always needs to be a balance, because I also want to be treated with compassion and humanity," Hickox said on CNN's "State of the Union" by phone from her hospital isolation. "I don't feel like I have been treated that way in the past three days."
Still, she wrote over the weekend, reflecting on her plight, it was nothing compared to her last night in Sierra Leone, as she "coaxed crushed tablets of Tylenol and an anti-seizure medicine" into the mouth of a dying 10-year-old girl. That, Hickox wrote, "was the hardest night of my life."