Civil Rights or Public Safety

Civil Rights or Public Safety


Kaci Hickox returned home from Sierra Leone this weekend. She is a nurse and was treating patients infected with the Ebola virus. Ms. Hickox was held at the airport for six hours and then taken to a hospital to be forcibly quarantined for 21 days. Is this a violation of her civil rights, or is a maneuver to protect the public’s safety?

On Friday the Governors of New York and New Jersey ordered a mandatory three week quarantine for any individual arriving from Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. The Governor of Illinois followed their example. (Three weeks is the incubation period for the Ebola virus).

When Ms. Hickox arrived at the airport her temperature was checked. The scanner registered a slight fever. She explained that it was only a rise in temperature due to exhaustion and her ordeal at the airport.

Ms. Hickox and her attorney have filed a lawsuit demanding a hearing no later than five days after the beginning of her confinement. Her lawyer is Norman Siegel who was the director of the New York Civil Liberties Union at one time. He is making the claim that his client’s civil rights are being violated and the entire process is fear-based. Ms. Hickox has twice been tested for Ebola.

Has the media over-hyped the Ebola virus situation? Is our medical system prepared and able to prevent a pandemic in this country? Has the United States moved from a nation of hope towards a nation ruled by fear? Should an individual’s civil rights be discounted for the sake of public safety? Is a mandatory quarantine an over-reaction by the governors of New York, New Jersey, and Illinois? Is this truly an issue of public safety?

Latest reports from the CDC related to Ebola in West Africa are: total cases 10,141; laboratory-confirmed cases 5,692; total deaths 4,922. Cases in the United States, 4, with one death. Mr. Duncan had contracted the disease in Liberia.

President Obama has urged the three governors to rescind their decrees. There has been no response.

To help everyone with their own opinion, here is some information from the World Health Organization, WHO, and the CDC.

Ebola is caused by contact with wild animals. It spreads among humans through individual contact with bodily fluids.

The present mortality rate for those infected is 50 percent.

The first known outbreaks of Ebola were in Central Africa near the rainforest.

Presently two vaccines have shown the possibility of controlling Ebola.

In addition to the United States, Russia and Canada have vaccines ready to be tested.

The real question is; are we to believe the scientists and doctors who have stated from day one that what is occurring in West Africa cannot and will not happen in the Unites States. Or are we ready to panic as did Andrew Cuomo, Chris Christie, and Pat Quinn. Is fear monger Rand Paul right, or is Tom Frieden, the director of the CDC accurate on the issue?

This may help; Congress, which does nothing right, claims Frieden is wrong.

By James Turnage



New York Times