(CNN) — An American nurse who has tested negative for Ebola is being released after days in quarantine in New Jersey, and a 5-year-old boy who recently visited West Africa and has a fever is being tested for the virus in New York.
The boy, who had a fever Monday morning, is with his mother at New York City’s Bellevue Hospital Center, said Dr. Ram Raju, the president of New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, which oversees Bellevue.
His test results should be available within 12 hours, and officials are trying to find out whether the child, who returned with his family recently from West Africa, came into contact with anyone who has Ebola, Raju said.
At the same time, in New Jersey, a nurse who had been quarantined since Friday after returning to the state from a month in Sierra Leone was ordered released, Gov. Chris Christie’s office said.
Kaci Hickox’s quarantine, part of a days-old policy the governors of New York and New Jersey instituted for all health care workers who’ve had contact with Ebola patients in West Africa, has been criticized widely by health care experts, those who have studied the virus and health care workers, including Hickox.
On Sunday, she spoke by phone with CNN’s Candy Crowley.
“This is an extreme that is really unacceptable, and I feel like my basic human rights have been violated,” Hickox said. She said she was flummoxed as to how Christie, who has no medical training, could describe her as “obviously ill.”
On Monday morning, she again spoke to CNN, saying that she felt “strong” mentally and physically and that she didn’t feel sick at all.
Hickox will return to Maine, and arrangements for her travel are still being worked out, her attorney Stephen Hyman told CNN.
An ambulance would not be an acceptable form of transport, he said, adding that his client wants to return home in reasonable comfort. “Her first priority is to get out of the hospital and back to a normal life,” Hyman said.
He said there’s a “legal basis” to challenge the quarantine policies in New Jersey and in New York, but the nurse isn’t sure she wants to.
What states are doing
New York, New Jersey and Illinois say anyone returning from having direct contact with Ebola patients in West Africa will have to be quarantined for 21 days. The 21-day period marks the maximum incubation period for Ebola.
Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn’s office said the quarantine would be a “home quarantine.”
“This protective measure is too important to be voluntary,” Quinn said.
When Christie and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced their new policies Friday, they called for possible hospitalization. But on Sunday night, after debate over the policies heated up, the governors said the quarantines could be carried out at home.
The Obama administration has urged Cuomo and Christie to reverse their policies, The New York Times reported Sunday. The conflict has taken place privately in phone calls and negotiations, with federal officials saying they think the governors are wrong about needing a total quarantine, according to the newspaper.
Arguments against the quarantines are that they could deter health care workers from traveling to West Africa to fight Ebola and could greatly hurt their livelihoods.
“I’m concerned of the disincentive for the health care workers” to travel to West Africa, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health.
“If I lose three weeks on my return and don’t get to do the work I’m supposed to do … means this wouldn’t be workable for me,” said Dr. John Carlson, a pediatric immunologist at Tulane University.
Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has long argued against travel restrictions, saying they could hurt the global health community’s effort to tamp down the West Africa outbreak. “It makes it hard to get health workers in, because they can’t get out,” he has said.
An expert who has studied Ebola for more than a decade, Purdue University’s David Sanders, told CNN on Monday that he feels the policy on mandatory quarantines in New York and New Jersey are “largely political” rather than medical fact and that leaders are acting based on the desire to calm a panicked public rather than to do what’s most beneficial.
He noted that it’s curious why other doctors and nurses who have treated Ebola patients have not been quarantined. The associate professor of biological sciences said he felt that quarantining those who return from West Africa after coming into contact with Ebola patients is “excessive.”
He stressed that everyone should keep in mind that unless someone is symptomatic, they cannot transmit the virus.
Doctor with Ebola at Bellevue
Bellevue Hospital Center is also where Ebola-positive New York doctor Craig Spencer, 33, is in isolation. Dr. Raju said Monday that he is in serious but stable condition.
Spencer arrived home in the United States on October 17 after spending time in Guinea, one of the hardest-hit West African nations, which also include Sierra Leone and Liberia.
Because he’d had contact with Ebola patients, Spencer took pains to limit his interaction with others, but he did go places and spend time with friends.
Spencer’s fiancee, Morgan Dixon, had been under quarantine at Bellevue, but doctors said she did not have the virus and has no symptoms, said Jean Weinberg, the city Health Department spokeswoman.
“We learned a lot from Dallas,” Raju said, referring to all that went wrong in Texas when a Liberian national arrived from West Africa with Ebola and two nurses treating him contracted the virus.
The CDC sets baseline recommendations on when someone should be quarantined or isolated. But state and local officials have the prerogative to set tighter policies.
Samantha Power, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, expressed worries about stigmatizing health workers.
In an interview aired Sunday before she traveled to Ebola-affected nations in West Africa, Power told NBC: “We need many more than are going right now. We need to find a way when they come home that they are treated like conquering heroes and not stigmatized for the tremendous work that they’ve done.”
Ebola and the U.S. military
On Sunday, the Pentagon would not say whether it’s willing to still send an active-duty military Ebola response team to states ordering mandatory quarantine for Ebola health care workers.
The 30-person team finishes training Monday and will then be ready for deployment on 72 hours’ notice. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel would have to approve any deployment.
On Monday, CNN learned from multiple military officials that Army Maj. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, who’s commander of U.S. Army Africa, and approximately 10 other personnel are now in “controlled monitoring” in Italy after landing there following a West Africa trip over the weekend.
Italian authorities met Williams’ plane “in full CDC gear,” an official said, referring to the type of protective equipment health care workers wear when dealing with Ebola.
There is no indication that any team members have the virus.
They will be monitored for 21 days at a separate location at a U.S. military installation in Vicenza, Italy, according to military officials. It’s not yet clear if family members can visit them.
CNN’s Ralph Ellis, Elizabeth Cohen, Joshua Berlinger, Joe Sutton, Daniel Burke, Greg Botelho, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Poppy Harlow, Haimy Assefa, Kristina Sgueglia, David Shortell, Barbara Starr and Josh Levs contributed to this report.
By Ashley Fantz