Gov. Dannel Malloy has declared a public health emergency in Connecticut as a precaution in light of the Ebola affecting several countries in western Africa.
Malloy signed an order declaring the emergency on Tuesday, giving the commissioner of the state Department of Public Health the authority to quarantine and isolate people whom the commissioner "reasonably believes has been exposed to the Ebola virus."
Malloy said the order is not in response to any specific case, but is meant to provide state health officials with the authority necessary to "prevent any potential transmission of the Ebola virus within the State of Connecticut."
"Time is of the essence. We know people who have been exposed to Ebola are in the United States," Malloy said at a news conference Tuesday. "The proximity to Logan and JFK, two very large entry points, along with the fact that we have great hospitals and medical centers in Connecticut led me to reach the conclusions that we should take these actions and be ready."
Malloy said in a statement that Connecticut hospitals are preparing for the event that an Ebola patient might enter the state seeking treatment "and public health officials from the state are working around the clock to monitor the situation."
"I hope nothing happens but I don't want to be caught flat-footed," Malloy said Tuesday. "If a hurricane is on its way, from 12-1300 miles, and we have a map that says it could hit us, we take precautions. Well, right now this could hit us and we're taking precautions."
Without the declaration of emergency, officials have no statewide ability to isolate or quarantine people who might have been exposed or infected. Instead, each individual local public health director would have the authority, according to the governor's office.
"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 Jewel Mullen said in a statement.
"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," Mullen continued.