October 25, 2014

Wisconsin launches Ebola information line

(Image: CDC)

(Image: CDC)

State health officials are setting up a hotline to answer questions about the Ebola virus.

In addition to information already posted on the state Department of Health Service’s website, the agency has opened a toll free line for state residents who have questions about the Ebola virus.

State Health Officer Karen McKeown says the department is setting up the service because they recognize people are concerned and have questions about the virus. There have been no reported cases of the Ebola virus in Wisconsin and the risk to the public remains extremely low.

The hotline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, by calling 1-844-684-1064.

Keeping threat of Ebola in U.S. in perspective

A Madison College professor says media consumers need to keep the threat posed by Ebola in the U.S. in perspective. While it’s important to inform the public, Madison College marketing professor Steve Noll says 24-7 coverage of Ebola has little to do with the extraordinarily small likelihood of individuals in the U.S. actually getting the disease.

“It’s kind of an exotic disease, it’s been heard about for decades but it’s always been very far away. But then when you cross that with the horrific, horror movie type symptoms that the disease gives, I think it’s just a perfect recipe for media sensation and over-hyping of the outbreak,” Noll said.

Noll noted that while Ebola has garnered enormous media attention, preventable public health threats which kill far more people in the U.S. rarely get that level of media coverage. “All these news outlets are competing to get as many viewers involved in their stories on a regular basis, because they know that the higher they can get their ratings, the more money they can generate.”

Walker, Burke differ on significance of abortion debate among voters

Mary Burke, Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Mary Burke, Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Republican Governor Scott Walker, who is pro-life, says voters don’t want to belabor the abortion issue. “You guys are asking a lot of interesting questions that quite honestly I don’t hear anyone ask.” He says people who talk to him on the campaign trail prefer to talk about jobs and education.

During a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board on Tuesday (jsonline video), Walker said people who talk to him on the campaign trail have other priorities. The following day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, who is pro-choice, met with the same editorial board, whose meeting was streamed live on its website.

Burke said people do want to discuss women’s health — and abortion. “I think people do care. And the fact that there are ads running on TV I think indicates that it is a subject that is important to people.”

And not just women. Burke says men who have daughters want them to have options, the right to make their own decisions about their bodies.

Some arguments include a mandated 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion, a required ultrasound, and bans on abortions after 20 weeks. Walker and Burke agree on parental consent of minors.

The two candidates meet for the second of two debates tonight in Milwaukee.

Governor Walker outlines Ebola prevention plan

WRN file photo

WRN file photo

Governor Scott Walker is directing state leaders to implement emergency preparedness measures, aimed at protecting the public in the event the Ebola virus spreads to Wisconsin. The virus has only been reported in Texas so far, and the state says there have been no confirmed cases in Wisconsin.

Walker outlined a planned response Friday that includes having the State Health Officer work with the Wisconsin National Guard to train teams on the proper protocols and procedures for treating individuals infected with Ebola. The state will also partner with the Wisconsin Hospital Association and hospitals around Wisconsin to develop an advisory team that can help provide technical and medical expertise to the Department of Health Services.

Finally, Walker joined a growing list of state and federal officials who are calling on the U.S. government to ban commercial travel for West African countries affected by the Ebola outbreak. The ban would still allow for charter, military, and other flights that are deemed “medically necessary” to help fight the spread of Ebola.

In a statement, Walker said “We must balance our continued efforts to support medical systems and contain and eradicate the virus in West Africa with taking necessary steps to protect American citizens from the virus spreading further within our country.”

In addition to the steps outlined Friday, Walker said the state has a surveillance policy in place to monitor people who have traveled in Ebola-stricken countries.

Governor Scott Walker may request Ebola travel ban

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Friday that he’d consider requesting travel bans in response to Ebola. With some members of Congress calling for a travel ban from west African nations beset by Ebola, Walker was asked to weigh in.

It’s something he’d consider – and which may come up as he meets up with state health officials and representatives from the health care sector. “I want to get their assessment as to whether they think that would be effective,” Walker told the media after addressing the Wisconsin League of Municipalities in Middleton.

The governor noted that it’s not a decision that can be made at the state level. “That would have to be . . . a matter of speaking out and asking the federal government to do that.”

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has called for travel restrictions and quarantines for air passengers from Ebola-striken nations, and congressman Reid Ribble has suggested a travel ban to the region and emergency action by Congress.