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Connecticut Declares Ebola A Public Health Emergency, Allows Quarantines

Relief supplies from Stamford-based AmeriCares are loaded onto a cargo plane at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last month as part of a humanitarian aid flight organized by Airlink.
Relief supplies from Stamford-based AmeriCares are loaded onto a cargo plane at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago last month as part of a humanitarian aid flight organized by Airlink. Photo Credit: Karrin Smoley/AmeriCares

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – In the event of a confirmed case of Ebola infection or exposure in Connecticut, state officials have the power to coordinate a targeted quarantine, according to a new order signed Tuesday by Gov. Dannel Malloy.   

By signing the order, Malloy is declaring a public health emergency, said a statement from his office. The commissioner of the Department of Public Health will now have the ability to effectively quarantine an individual or a group of individuals who may have been exposed to or infected with the Ebola virus.

The order was not executed because a specific case has been identified, but rather as a precautionary and preparatory measure in the event that the state has either a confirmed infection or has confirmed that someone at risk of developing the infection is residing in the state, Malloy said in a release.

“We are taking this action today to ensure that we are prepared, in advance, to deal with any identified cases in which someone has been exposed to the virus or, worst case, infected,” said Malloy. “Our state’s hospitals have been preparing for it, and public health officials from the state are working around the clock to monitor the situation. 

"Right now, we have no reason to think that anyone in the state is infected or at risk of infection. But it is essential to be prepared and we need to have the authorities in place that will allow us to move quickly to protect public health, if and when that becomes necessary. Signing this order will allow us to do that.”

A public health emergency gives the public health commissioner the authority to quarantine and isolate individuals whom the commissioner reasonably believes has been exposed to the Ebola virus. Without the declaration, there is no statewide ability to isolate or quarantine – instead, the authority rests with each individual local public health director.

“While local health officials are certainly on the front lines of this effort, at the ready to address any situation, having this order in place will allow us to have a more coordinated response in the event that someone in Connecticut either tests positive for Ebola or has been identified as someone who is at risk of developing it,” DPH Commissioner Dr. Jewel Mullen said. 

“We have had numerous conversations with both local public health officials in the state and senior officials at the Center for Disease Control.  We have no reason to believe that anyone in Connecticut is infected or at risk of infection, but if it does happen, we want to be ready.”

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