The newly-formed Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response held its first public hearing in the State Capitol.
At the 9 a.m. hearing, task force members focused on medical and public health preparedness for the initial identification and isolation of patients with Ebola or similar high-consequence infectious diseases, officials said.
Officials said that Thomas Eric Duncan could have walked into any hospital, so all hospitals must be prepared to handle an Ebola patient.
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Task Force members heard invited testimony from witnesses representing professions and institutions involved in infectious disease identification and response. The main issues they discussed were internal communication, enhanced diagnostic screening and training for medical staff.
Speakers thanksed nurses Nina Pham and Amber Vinson, who tested positive for Ebola after treating Duncan. Texas Department of Health Services Dr. David Lakey, in particular, said it takes genuine bravery to care for someone with Ebola.
Texas Governor Rick Perry created the 15-member task force comprised of experts in infectious disease and public health, biodefense leaders and other state agency professionals Oct. 6. The group is charged with development of recommendations and a comprehensive state plan to ensure that Texas is prepared for the potential of emerging infectious diseases, such as the Ebola virus, and can provide the rapid response needed to effectively protect the safety and well-being of citizens.