Get sassy with Sarah: Inconvenience be damned


Sarah Lentz, Staff Writer

I am tired of hearing about Ebola being the next epidemic that’s going to hit the United States.

That’s not to say I think the deadly disease ravaging places in western Africa doesn’t deserve news coverage. Nearly 5,000 people have died in countries like Liberia and Sierra Leone. That’s more than just newsworthy; it’s tragic.

But the likelihood of reaching an epidemic of that proportion in the U.S. is very small.

Ebola is transmitted through blood or bodily fluids. Because it’s so easily transmitted, the CDC has suggested quarantine for those who contract or come into contact with the virus.

A nurse in Maine, Kaci Hickox, returned from Africa and was told she would need to be quarantined for 21 days. Hickox was not showing any symptoms of Ebola and fought the ruling. She even broke mandated quarantine by going on an internationally publicized bike ride outside of her town last Thursday.

Hickox maintained that she was unjustly confined to an isolation tent in New Jersey and her home in Maine. Because she was symptom free, she argued that she should be able to move as she pleased.

While the quarantine is, in part, out of the fear that Ebola is creating, quarantine is rational and for the public’s benefit.

As a nurse working in Sierra Leone, Hickox knows the severity of this virus’s spread. Even if she’s not showing symptoms, it’s in everyone’s best interest to be cautious.

She accused New Jersey governor Chris Christie of using an “abundance of politics” to confine aid workers coming back from Africa.

She petitioned the court in Maine to be allowed to come and go as she pleased, and a judge granted her that right.

Sunday, however, Hickox made some head-scratching statements and revealed she would stay away from the public, essentially quarantining herself.

“Sometimes we fight for our rights, but it doesn’t mean we have to act on them,” Hickox said in an interview with “The Maine Sunday Telegram.”

She also said, “I didn’t mean to bring this media storm onto this community, either.”

By publically disregarding Ebola protocol, what did she expect? You don’t call out governors while possibly putting the public at risk then seem surprised when the media shows up at your door.

Hickox has six days left of quarantine, which she agreed to spend relatively secluded.

If this was the endgame anyway, why not just spend the 21 days at home to begin with? This whole “media storm” she created could have been avoided had she just done that in the first place.

Instead of worrying about other health professionals’ rights that may be hampered in the future, she should have been worrying about the residents of her community not being exposed to Ebola.

Ebola is creating fear all over the world. Part of erasing that fear needs to come from following protocol that stops the spread of the disease.

As a health professional, Hickox should understand that.

She may not have liked sitting at home for 21 days without symptoms, but had the symptoms occurred while she was outside her home, there would have been others at risk.

At that point, public safety needs to come before personal comfort.