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Op-Ed: Why nurse in Maine should respect quarantine orders

By Calvin Wolf     Oct 29, 2014 in Politics
A nurse who was quarantined in New Jersey after returning home from west Africa is refusing to remain self-quarantined in her home in Maine. Here is why we should all respect quarantine orders:
Ebola and Marburg have not read the Declaration of Independence or United States Constitution. They know not of the rights of habeas corpus. Of human psychology and sociology, they care not. The threat of a virus is consistent and cannot be negotiated with, rendering treaties, armistices, and bargains useless. America's Founding Fathers knew of smallpox, but not how it spread.
Now we know how diseases spread, but what happens when preventing the spread of dangerous diseases conflicts with our Constitutional rights? This is what makes quarantine orders so controversial. According to CNN, a battle is looming in Maine, where a nurse who was previously quarantined in New Jersey after returning from treating Ebola patients in west Africa is now refusing to remain self-quarantined in her home. The nurse was reportedly quite dissatisfied with her quarantine conditions in New Jersey and has shown no symptoms of any infection. She says she will abide by CDC (Center for Disease Control) health monitoring standards but will not be obligated to remain confined to her house.
Obviously, controversy abounds. The woman, who is a medical professional, has shown no symptoms of infection and has already been quarantined once. She is playing by some government rules, but not all. The public is wary.
Due to the lethality of the Ebola virus, which has a lengthy incubation period, quarantine orders should be mandatory and enforced. The nurse should remain in her home and avoid contact with others. Though she is a medical professional and may feel certain that she has a clean bill of health, the Ebola-infected doctor in New York City traveled extensively before seeking medical attention, reports the New York Post, implying that this medical professional also assumed he was not infected.
How common is it for people to assume they are not sick? Many of us "tough it out" through cold and flu season every year. As a high school teacher, I routinely catch a cruddy week every fall from some teen who dragged in the latest virus. Like many, I often refuse to admit that I am sick and that I should switch to "patient mode." I try to power through.
Can we trust people, even medical professionals, to not behave in this manner? How many medical professionals who have been infected with Ebola, going all the way back to the virus' discovery in 1976, tried to "power on" under their belief that nothing was wrong, potentially spreading the virus? We are masters of denial.
I understand people are upset about quarantine orders, but I also understand that people are too often prone to human nature. If you have had any possible contact with a lethal virus, you need to stay quarantined for the entire duration. Trying to later say "I'm sorry, I thought I was okay" doesn't really cut it. You may recover, but someone you infected may not.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of DigitalJournal.com
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