Oklahoma Republican State Rep. Mike Ritze told a local television station the Department of Health and Human Services is examining the readiness of hospitals in the state for an influx of Ebola patients.Obama declares war on Ebola.
According to the former chairman of the Tulsa County Republican Party, the HHS is also checking hospitals in New Mexico and other states.
The Oklahoma State Department of Health believes all 50 states have received inquiries from the federal agency about the readiness to accept Ebola patients, according to KFOR in Oklahoma City.
“This may just be a routine inquiry, but it strikes me as curious given the recent outbreak of Ebola cases in West Africa,” said Ritze. “At this point, there is no need to panic, but it would be helpful to get some accurate information from our state and federal health organizations so we know how severe the threat may be.”
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has also told hospitals to prepare for an outbreak in the United States. The CDC released a revised checklist on Ebola preparedness for all hospitals on Monday.
“It’s gone beyond an Ebola crisis to a humanitarian crisis,” said Dr. Steve Monroe of the CDC. “It does require more of a U.S. government-wide response, more than just CDC.”
On Tuesday Obama visited the CDC headquarters in Atlanta and met with staff there.
“This is a daunting task, but here’s what gives us hope. The world knows how to fight this disease. It’s not a mystery. We know the science. We know how to prevent it from spreading. We know how to care for those who contract it. We know that if we take the proper steps, we can save lives. But we have to act fast,” Obama said.
Obama characterized the African outbreak as a threat to global security. “The reality is that this epidemic is going to get worse before it gets better,” he predicted.
Obama announced a plan to send 3,000 U.S. troops, including engineers and medical personnel, to Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, where a regional command center will be established and commanded by Major General Darryl Williams.
Doctors Without Borders and other NGOs are wary of military involvement in the growing health crisis.
“In this particular case, the Ebola emergency is so severe and the logistical challenges are so serious and seem so insurmountable that you have humanitarian actors that are normally very resistant to any kind of military aid asking for the military to get involved,” said Laura Seay, a Colby College assistant professor of government specializing in African issues.
“This is one of those things where you have to be careful what you wish for,” Seay said.