Gov. Abbott Signs Bill to Protect First Responders

Governor Greg Abbott has signed a bill aiming to protect first responders from communicable diseases.

House Bill 2646 effectively amends the Texas Health and Safety Code permitting local health departments to release information through a computerized dispatch system. The information, when released, will then be accessible to all first responders.

"It is imperative for all first responders to have access to location information of individuals being monitored for communicable diseases during the disease monitoring period," Zachary Thompson, Dallas County Health and Human Services director, said in a statement.

State Senator Royce West sponsored the bill, which was authorized by Texas Representative Helen Giddings.

“I commend Dallas County for addressing the 2014 Ebola situation with the tools they had,” Giddings said.

“Once HB 2646 becomes effective this September 1st, it will allow our first responders to take the necessary and proper precautions, whether it is with supplies or suiting up with appropriate protective clothing, to avoid an unnecessary risk of exposure to a communicable disease.”

Information is accessible to governmental entities that provide first responders. Information is also released to local health authorities, but only during disease monitoring periods.

The law will be effective on September 1, 2015.

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