More than 4,000 individuals have died from the current Ebola outbreak overseas, though, there’s no immediate threat to Wisconsin. Even so, Governor Scott Walker says state officials are keeping on top of public health and safety issues.
As the deadly virus spreads beyond Liberia, the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is telling hospitals to learn how to watch for signs and diagnose the virus and the importance of keeping suspected patients isolated.
President Obama is urging the nation’s health and security leaders to create a national response plan following news of an infected health care worker in the United States. A man who traveled from Liberia to Texas to visit relatives died last Wednesday from Ebola and a nurse who treated him has contracted the disease.
Governor Walker says the Wisconsin Department of Health Services is prepared to deal with the highly infectious virus. “They have plans – not just for this, but for other health issues,” Walker says. “I’ve gotten for the last, I don’t know, month or so, weekly updates just as to where we stand on issues like that.”
A couple hundred state health professionals are convening in Milwaukee today to discuss identifying and treating the Ebola virus. Officials from public health agencies, hospitals, clinics, and ambulance services are expected to attend the preparedness symposium. They’ll review screening protocols and look at ways to protect health workers from the deadly virus.
Five international airports in the U.S. are screening passengers from West Africa for signs of the virus. Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton is asking federal officials for enhanced screenings at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul airport. Governor Walker says he’d look into extra screenings at Mitchell International Airport in Milwaukee, if necessary. However, he says, the state is ready to deal with public health issues — at airports and elsewhere.
“We’re looking at it, reviewing things, just like in the past with our emergency management plans.” Walker points to emergency efforts surrounding Hurricanes Sandy and Katrina, saying it’s important to always re-examine readiness. “If there’s a state or jurisdiction that looks like they’re just coming up with a plan now,” Walker says, “someone would really have to scratch their head and wonder why they didn’t have a plan in place all along.”
Walker acknowledges this preparedness in Wisconsin is not new, he says there are ongoing plans that his team is continuously updating from previous administrations — for public health, safety, and even cyber security.