On Tuesday, public health officials met with local mayors and government representatives in order to help familiarize local officials, including Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA), with details of the public plan that has been laid out to handle a potential Ebola case in California, according to the Wrap.
The event reportedly included representatives of the L.A. County Department of Public Health, the City of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles World Airports, the Centers for Disease Control, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Los Angeles Fire Department and the Los Angeles Emergency Management Department at LAX, the Wrap notes. LAX is included in the district that Waters represents.
Rep. Waters had written a letter on Oct. 19 to Gina Marie Lindsey, executive director of the Los Angeles World Airports, requesting an information session for the groups that would be in charge of handling an Ebola-type scenario in the Golden State, the Wrap notes.
There is growing concern in the community about the threat that Ebola poses to public health. Organizations representing diverse constituencies such as airport police officers, flight attendants and nurses have contacted my office to express their concerns.
Given the potential for the spread of Ebola through air travel, it is critical that officials in the community surrounding LAX understand the procedures that are being followed at LAX to protect passengers, employees and the community.
The briefing comes on the heels of media scrutiny surrounding the handling of Ebola containment in states such as New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, and Maine.
A spokeswoman for the L.A. Department of Public Health reportedly told the Wrap that Tuesday’s meeting is not intended to reveal any new details, but rather to highlight procedures that have already been set in place.
CDC guidelines state that travelers who have been in contact with individuals who contracted Ebola in the three hardest-hit West African nations are prohibited from making Los Angeles their first stop in the United Sates, notes the Wrap. They are, instead, required to stop off first in New York, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C. airports in order to be screened.
On Friday, the University of California announced that all five of its hospitals were ready and fully-equipped to handle Ebola, subsequently volunteering its services. However, the UC hospitals have not been named by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or other federal authorities as treatment centers for Ebola yet.
Currently four specialty hospitals throughout the U.S. that are equipped with a biocontainment ward, will continue to fulfill that role. They are located in Maryland (National Institutes of Health specialty center), Atlanta (Emory University Hospital), Nebraska (Nebraska Medical Center at the University of Nebraska) and Montana (Saint Patrick Hospital in Missoula).