Kaci Hickox, the nurse who made national headlines fighting Ebola quarantines first in New Jersey and then here in Maine, will move from Fort Kent to Freeport with her boyfriend.

Hickox’s boyfriend, Ted Wilbur, outlined the couple’s plans for the immediate future in a telephone interview Monday, the 21st day since Hickox’s last exposure to an Ebola patient in West Africa, where she spent five weeks treating those afflicted with the deadly virus.

A Maine court order expired at 11:59 p.m. Monday, freeing Hickox from daily monitoring and having to coordinate her travels with public health authorities. The expiration of the court order coincides with the end of the disease’s 21-day incubation period.

“We’re just going down to Freeport to set up our storage unit and see our family over the next few days, then deal with the move,” Wilbur said from Fort Kent, which is one of the northernmost towns in Maine and overlooks the St. John River into New Brunswick.

Wilbur said he and Hickox had never planned to leave Maine, only to leave Fort Kent after his negotiations broke down with officials at the University of Maine at Fort Kent, where he had been a nursing student.

The couple had moved to Fort Kent in August after Wilbur enrolled in an accelerated nursing program, but university officials warned of “hysteria” after Hickox returned from Sierra Leone and asked Wilbur to stay away from campus.


Wilbur said he has lived in Freeport before, and they will continue living there while he seeks to enroll in different nursing programs and as Hickox determines her future plans.

“If we could, we would like to stay in Maine,” he said. “We loved it up here (in Fort Kent). It is beautiful. We’re leaving because of the school, the lack of leadership; they didn’t stand behind me.”

University of Maine at Fort Kent officials “did a great deal of work in the last two weeks to address community concerns” about Wilbur and Ebola, Dan Demeritt, spokesman for the University of Maine System, said late last week. “Unfortunately, he feels we weren’t accommodating enough, but we worked hard to balance the students’ needs and the overall concerns of the campus and the community.”

Hickox immediately captured national attention upon her return to the United States on Oct. 24, when she was placed in a quarantine tent in Newark, New Jersey, and wrote a first-person account of her involuntary isolation for The Dallas Morning News.

Hickox was initially taken into quarantine after a forehead scan at the Newark airport registered her temperature at 101 degrees, though an oral thermometer indicated it was normal. A blood test later came back negative for Ebola.

She was allowed to return to Maine after a few days.


Although Hickox does not have Ebola and has never exhibited symptoms, the 33-year-old nurse became the face of a national debate on how to balance the public’s fears of a poorly understood disease with the civil rights of returning health care workers.

Wilbur said that while he and Hickox have been subjected to an outpouring of public vitriol online and in letters, people have so far been kind to him in person.

“I think people will be fine,” Wilbur said regarding his and Hickox’s intended move to Freeport. “I’ve been out in town around here, and no one has been rude to me here in Fort Kent.”

Wilbur said he has been in contact with other nursing schools since he was unable to come to terms with university officials in Fort Kent.

“I spoke to a nursing school yesterday, and they said, ‘We’re interested.’ And I said, ‘Here’s a question for you; if Kaci goes to West Africa and comes back, will I be allowed to go to class if she’s living with me?'” Wilbur said. The school seemed receptive, he added.

While Hickox has said that she might be interested in returning to West Africa to help treat victims of the ongoing disease outbreak, she has made no firm decision, according to Wilbur.


“We haven’t had a chance to breathe,” he said.

Tom Wilbur, his uncle and owner of Wilbur’s of Maine Chocolate Confections in Freeport, said he is looking forward to seeing his nephew, whom he hasn’t seen for a month, and Hickox, whom he hasn’t seen since before her trip to Africa.

“I don’t think Kaci has ever done anything to endanger anyone, and I think she was very careful,” Tom Wilbur said. “I know her well enough to know she would never put anyone in danger.”

Freeport Town Manager Peter Joseph said he had not heard that Wilbur and Hickox were headed to Freeport, but he wasn’t surprised because Wilbur has family members in town.

“We don’t have any concern for public health, so they should be allowed to live where they want,” Joseph said. “I’m sure there will be some interest, but I don’t think it will be cause for outrage or alarm.”

Andrew Banderburgh, one of three men laying bricks Monday at the Freeport Village Station shopping center, said he didn’t think Hickox’s arrival in town would create a stir.


“It wouldn’t freak me out,” said Banderburgh, who lives in Dayton. “I understand it’s a serious illness, but I’m not a big fan of the quarantine issue.”

Jeff Turgeon, working behind the counter at Derosier’s pizza and sandwich shop on Main Street, said his reaction if Hickox walked in the door would be to say, “How are you?”

“There’s nothing much else I could say to her,” said Turgeon, who would recognize Hickox’s face from the news. “She’s a customer. She’s not going to get me sick.”

Naomi Beal, heading toward the entrance of the Bow Street Market, said she expected most residents would be welcoming to Hickox and Wilbur.

“I feel sorry that they had the reaction, response and greeting that they had in Fort Kent,” Beal said. “I’m just astounded at the commentary of people calling her selfish.”

Melissa Maynard said as she left the grocery store that she felt that most people in town realize Hickox doesn’t pose a health threat.


“I think she’s been vetted. She’s healthy. I think it’s sad that she feels ostracized by her community and has to leave,” said Maynard, who was visiting Freeport from Portland. “But she did fly in the face of the governor’s wishes, so that does make some enemies.”

Eugene Golding of Pownal summed up his thoughts about Hickox succinctly as he sat in his pickup truck outside the market.

“She ain’t got it, and she ain’t going to get it now,” Golding said.

Scott Dolan can be contacted at 791-6304 or at:

[email protected]

Twitter: scottddolan

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