CT governor declares Ebola a 'public health emergency' - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT governor declares Ebola a 'public health emergency'

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Gov. Dannel Malloy declared Ebola a public health emergency. (WFSB file photo) Gov. Dannel Malloy declared Ebola a public health emergency. (WFSB file photo)
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HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

If the Ebola virus comes to Connecticut, health officials now have the ability to quarantine the individual or group carrying it.

Gov. Dannel Malloy declared a “public health emergency” and signed an order on Tuesday that gives the power to Commissioner Jewel Mullen of the Department of Public Health.

“We are taking this action today to ensure that we are prepared, in advance, to deal with any identified cases in which someone has been exposed to the virus or, worst case, infected,” Malloy said.

The order was not executed because of a specific case, the governor's office said. Rather, it's a precaution just in case someone comes to the state with either a confirmed infection or is at risk for one.

“It is essential to be prepared and we need to have the authorities in place that will allow us to move quickly to protect public health, if and when that becomes necessary,” Malloy said.

Without Malloy's declaration, he said there is no statewide ability to isolate potentially infected individuals. Instead, the authority would rest with local public health directors, at which point it might be too late to prevent further infections.

“While local health officials are certainly on the front lines of this effort, at the ready to address any situation, having this order in place will allow us to have a more coordinated response in the event that someone in Connecticut either tests positive for Ebola or has been identified as someone who is at risk of developing it,” Mullen said.

By having this measure in place, Mullen said, "we don't have to scramble in the event I need to take action."

There are no Ebola cases in Connecticut, but if someone were to come in contact with an Ebola patient they would be observed for three weeks, and not just in a hospital room.

"They stay in a confined area, which could even be in their home and they're not coming or going," Mullen added.

In Las Vegas, nurses marched to show that hospitals are not ready for Ebola, but not St. Francis Hospital in Connecticut.

"We do have a hierarchy that would be notified if a potential Ebola patient would come in and we would be able to start the appropriate measures to isolate and triage these patients," said Dr. Ulysse Wu, chief of Infectious Disease.

The same goes for Hartford Healthcare as well. Posters that say "have you traveled out of the United States" will be placed in all offices and emergency rooms as a way to raise awareness.

The Center for Disease Control issued a hospital checklist for Ebola preparation as well.

Airports will be doing their part as well. President Barack Obama said he wants airports to increase screenings for the virus.

The order from Malloy will remain in place until the epidemic is over.

To read the full declaration, click here.

Copyright 2014 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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