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Health Experts Compare Notes On How They View The State’s Response To Ebola

Ryan E. Poppe

The creation of two specialized bio-containment centers for handling Ebola in Texas led to a debate between leading health officials at the first hearing of Gov. Rick Perry’s Ebola task force.

Six doctors from Texas hospitals and university health systems gave the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response their take on the state’s response to the disease.

Here’s Dr. Joseph McCormick from UT’s School of Public Health in Brownsville, taking issue with the Commissioner for the Texas Department of State Health Services, Dr. David Lakey. McCormick said this in the context of the creation of the Ebola-specific bio-containment facilities in the state.

McCormick:  “What we’re seeing here is the fear of this disease and fear that we can’t manage it under normal circumstances, and that’s just not the case. I’m not arguing we shouldn’t have these centers but I am arguing that we can’t choose where these patients are going to be.”  “That’s a straw man no has proposed, that there’s only going to be these two centers and that’s all there going to be.” 

That was Lakey’s response to McCormick.

McCormick, though, went on to use the example of the nonprofit Doctors Without Borders, which operates in Ebola-stricken countries without most caregivers contracting the disease.

Other experts, like the Chair of Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, Dr. Ron Cook, stressed the need for the state to control “public fears.”

“We need to control the media and be right behind all of the Facebook pages, all the Twitter accounts and be right behind everything the media is broadcasting,” he stated.

Cook recommended having a centralized command center that is responsible for monitoring news media and distributing information. Doctors also reemphasized the lack of adequate supplies and personal protective gear for treating someone with Ebola