Maine governor: Talks failed with Ebola nurse

 

Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) said Thursday that talks have failed with the Fort Henry nurse who is refusing the state’s quarantine order, but he will not reveal his next step in the legal battle.

"I was ready and willing — and remain ready and willing — to reasonably address the needs of healthcare workers meeting guidelines to assure the public health is protected," LePage wrote in a statement Thursday afternoon.

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Kaci Hickox, a nurse who treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone, has twice broken the state’s quarantine by leaving her house this week — once for a press briefing in her driveway and a second time for a bike ride with her boyfriend.

LePage wrote that he would “exercise the full extent of his authority allowable by law,” to enforce the order against Hickox, but declined to elaborate on his specific effort, which he said was bound by a legal confidentiality requirement.

LePage said Maine’s top legal authorities, including his chief legal adviser and the attorney general, were in hours of negotiations on Wednesday.

“Unfortunately, an agreement was not reached,” the governor wrote in a statement. LePage said he “remains willing to enter into such an agreement” with Hickox as well as any other traveling health workers who are in a similar situation.

The state appears to be relying on federal guidelines for Ebola healthcare workers, which would allow Hickox to leave her home on some occasions, such as a bike ride, as long as she agreed to remain out of public spaces. But she has not yet agreed to the conditions.

“Maine statutes provide robust authority to the State to use legal measures to address threats to public health,” he added.

LePage spoke publicly about the showdown for the first time Thursday, stressing that police cars around her home are for "her own protection." 

"Her behavior is really riling a lot of people up," LePage told reporters, according to a local CBS affiliate called WCHS. "She's not acting as smart as she probably should."

This post was updated at 4:11 p.m.