Commonwealth taking additional steps to safeguard against Ebola

ebola4Governor Terry McAuliffe announced Friday that the Commonwealth is taking additional steps to strengthen the level of preparedness for the Ebola virus by mobilizing a statewide unified command group. This group is responsible for coordinating resources and personnel.

“The Virginia Department of Health works every day to prevent the spread of infectious diseases of all kinds,” said Governor McAuliffe. “The department’s focus will be to keep the community informed, and ensure that, if there is any risk, the appropriate public health actions will be taken.”

The statewide unified command group will be composed of officials from the Governor’s Office, Department of Health, Department of Emergency Management, State Police, Department of Social Services, Department of Transportation, Virginia National Guard, Department of Environmental Quality, Department of Education, the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services and others.

“Ebola prevention is based on principles and approaches that we use every day,” said State Health Commissioner Marissa J. Levine, MD, MPH, FAAFP. “However, there are unique aspects of Ebola that require us to make sure our plans and processes are up to date for this new concern.”

Dr. Levine has activated the regional hospital coordinating system, which was developed after 9-11 and the anthrax attack of 2001, to assess our capability in each region of the state and ensure appropriate coordination. The Virginia Department of Health will lead the state’s ongoing health preparedness efforts supported by these other agencies.

VDH, including its 35 health districts and local health departments, is working closely with the state laboratory (Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services), individual hospitals and first responders/EMS to make sure they have adequate training and protocols, established with the best guidance available, to care for Ebola patients safely. Following these guidelines thoroughly will help health care workers who are caring directly for patients with Ebola stay safe from infection.

Over the next several weeks, this group will be developing additional statewide protocols for first responders to enhance their safety and readiness.

For more information about Ebola, visit www.vdh.virginia.gov.

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