Kaci Hickox, the nurse currently under quarantine at University Hospital in Newark, NJ, harshly criticized her treatment during a phone call with CNN on Sunday.
"It's really inhumane," she told anchor Candy Crowley.
Hickox is the first person quarantined under a strict new policy enacted by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. The 21-day quarantine order followed news that a New York doctor who had recently returned from treating Ebola patients in Guinea tested positive for the disease. Hickox was quarantined on Friday after flying into Newark Liberty International Airport from Sierra Leone, where she had been working with Doctors Without Borders treating Ebola patients. She has been placed under isolation since then despite testing negative for Ebola.
"To quarantine everyone, in case, you know, when you cannot predict who may develop Ebola or not, and to make me stay for 21 days, to not be with my family, to put me through this emotional and physical stress, is completely unacceptable," Hickox told Crowley. She added, "I feel like my basic human rights have been violated."
She also sharply criticized Gov. Christie for what she described as a complete mischaracterization of her condition:
"I heard from my mother last night who called me concerned and said, Governor Christie just said in an interview that you were quote-unquote 'obviously ill'. And this is so frustrating to me. First of all, I don’t think he's a doctor. And secondly, he's never laid eyes on me. And thirdly, I have been asymptomatic since I've been here. I feel physically completely strong and emotionally completely exhausted. But for him to say I'm 'obviously ill', which is even a strange thing, that, what does that mean? Someone define that for me, because I think I don’t quite understand what 'obviously ill' means."
Despite criticisms, Christie defended the quarantine policy on Sunday, saying he has "no second thoughts about it."
Hickox slammed the new quarantine policy as "completely not understandable" nor based in science. "It is not based on any clear public health evidence," she explained. "It's not the recommendation of public health and medical experts at this point. You know, I think we have to be very careful about letting politicians make medical and public health decisions, and all of the evidence about Ebola shows that if you are not symptomatic, you are not infectious."
She described her current conditions as like a "prison", saying that she is being kept in a tent within a building outside the hospital. She has a hospital bed and "a port-a-potty type restroom." Hickox said that she has "no shower facilities" and "no connection with the outside world except my iPhone which I insisted that I brought with me when I arrived late Friday night."
CNN's Vaughn Sterling tweeted photos of Hickox's tent:
The New York Times reports that Hickox has hired a civil rights attorney to challenge her quarantine. The lawyer, Norman Siegel, says that Hickox plans to sue over her confinement, which he said raised "serious constitutional and civil liberties issues."
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Sunday that aggressive quarantine policies like the ones in New Jersey and New York are not based on sound science and could ultimately threaten public health.
The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, similarly expressed concerns. "All of us need to make clear what these health workers mean to us and how much we value their services, how much we value their contribution," she stated on NBC's "Meet The Press".