The History of Medical Quarantines, and What That Could Mean For Americans Today

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 A nurse helps a doctor and nurse take off their isolation suits following a demonstration for the media of ebola treatment capabilities at Station 59 at Charite hospital on August 11, 2014 in Berlin.

Kaci Hickox, the Ebola health worker who was the first person forcibly quarantined under New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s controversial health order, was released on Monday, October 27. She returned home to Maine, and said that she would defy the the voluntary quarantine policy in Maine. Maine's Governor, Paul R. LePage, issued a statement Wednesday saying that his office is seeking “legal authority to enforce the quarantine” on Hickox. As states and the federal government conflict over how to regulate, police, and enforce quarantines, citizens get caught up in the middle.

On this week's Please Explain, we are talking about the history of and medical and legal guidelines for quarantines.We’re joined by Howard Markel, George E. Wantz Distinguished Professor of the History of Medicine and Director of the Center for the History of Medicine at the University of Michigan. Dr. Markel is the author, co-author, or co-editor of ten books including the award winning Quarantine!: East European Jewish Immigrants and the New York City Epidemics of 1892 and When Germs Travel: Six Major Epidemics That Have Invaded America Since 1900 and the Fears They Have Unleashed.