One day after New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said he had "no second thoughts" about forcing a quarantine on a nurse, Kaci Hickox, who had tested negative for Ebola, the Republican loosened his grip and agreed to transfer her to Maine where she lives. The governor's office announced Monday morning in a statement that the nurse -- after being symptom-free for the last 24 hours -- would adhere to her request to be moved to the state. At that point, Maine can "make a determination under their own laws" on whether to continue the quarantine, the statement read.
Appearing on Fox News yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) was the height of confidence. Two days after imposing a mandatory quarantine on a nurse, Kaci Hickox, effectively detaining her in a tent with no running water, the Republican governor boasted, "[W]e've taken this action and I absolutely have no second thoughts about it."
Indeed, Christie was feeling so good about his handling of the situation that he didn't even feel the need to stay in New Jersey -- the governor maintained a busy travel schedule, making a series of campaign stops over the weekend, even helping far-right Rep. Steve King (R) in Iowa.
As we discussed this morning, Christie's administration pointed to a shift in posture overnight, and this morning, the governor agreed to allow Hickox to leave.
A spokesperson for Christie insisted that New Jersey's protocol "is not changing," and Hickox's release technically isn't a shift since she'll be leaving the state to return to Maine.
It's worth emphasizing that the nurse, who has treated Ebola patients in Sierra Leone as part of her work with Doctors Without Borders, has not displayed any symptoms. Christie said over the weekend that Hickox was "obviously ill," but this was apparently only obvious to Christie -- who has no medical background and who wasn't even in New Jersey when the nurse was detained against her will.
Hickox has secured legal counsel. Whether the threat of litigation prompted Christie's change of heart is unclear.
The governor has not spoken publicly this morning about the controversy, but he's published a few dozen tweets on the subject.
As for yesterday's interview -- the one in which Christie said he has "absolutely ... no second thoughts" -- the governor also told Fox News he expects his approach to become "national policy" soon.
Given the developments in New Jersey over the last few days, that seems highly unlikely.