President Barack Obama -- who has criticized state governments for imposing overly restrictive quarantines on health care workers returning from West Africa -- will travel today to Maine, where Gov. Paul LePage is seeking legal authority to confine a nurse who treated Ebola patients to her home.
Obama will attend a Democratic fundraiser and a rally for LePage’s Democratic challenger, Rep. Mike Michaud.
Obama’s trip comes as the nurse who has vowed to defy Maine’s voluntary quarantine for health care workers left her home Thursday for a bike ride.
Kaci Hickox and her boyfriend stepped out of their house in Fort Kent, Me., morning and rode away on mountain bikes, followed by state troopers and local police, the Portland Press Herald reported.
Obama has not singled out Maine’s policy, but said Wednesday that health care workers who are returning from treating Ebola patients in West Africa “should be treated like the heroes that they are.”
And he said that “if we’re discouraging our health care workers . . . from traveling to these places in need, then we’re not doing our job in terms of looking after our own public health and safety.”
Obama, who thanked returning health care workers at a White House event on Wednesday, had no plans to visit Hickox while he was in the state, Press Secretary Josh Earnest said.
The Department of Defense has ordered that all U.S. troops who travel to Liberia to help build Ebola treatment centers be quarantined for 21 days afterward, even though the service members will not come into direct contact with Ebola patients.
Obama travels this afternoon to Portland where he’ll attend a Democratic National Committee roundtable and deliver remarks at a campaign event for Michaud and other Maine Democrats at the Portland Expo.