State outlines new Ebola protocols

State outlines new Ebola protocols

Louisiana's senior senator is blasting the Obama administration's handling of Ebola and says the state has the power to do something about it.

Vitter's comments came at a Louisiana House Homeland Security Committee hearing in Baton Rouge, where new procedures were laid out should a case show up in Louisiana. As cities like Dallas, Cleveland and Atlanta deal with Ebola concerns, state lawmakers worry when we might, too.

"I think the federal government's inability to do that so far is inexcusable," said Sen. David Vitter (R-La.).

Vitter called for the resignation of the director of the Centers for Disease Control. He also said the state was not powerless to act when it comes to travel restrictions.

"My recommendation to you is to put a request in to CDC to say non-U.S. citizens leaving certain countries do pose a health risk, and we request you to put them on the do not fly list," said Vitter.

He also said problems with controlling immigrants on the southern U.S. border could pose an especially vexing problem.

"It's not crazy to surmise if Ebola moved to Latin America, that the southern border of the U.S. would be a big deal for that virus coming into the country in greater numbers," Vitter said.

The state says there have already been suspected cases, and they are working to dispel rumors.

"It's not transmitted by air," said Dr. Jimmy Guidry, with the state health department.

State officials say they have procedures in place, but it's unclear if local hospitals will care for the Ebola patient.

"We were saying before [that] any hospital with ICU can do this," Guidry said. "Now we're saying we're not so sure. The rules are changing."

The state now says that - after the Dallas situation - the CDC will come in to determine if a hospital can handle the Ebola patient.

"Any plan has to be flexible, and this is a good thing," said state health spokesman Dr. Raoult Ratard.

The state will activate the emergency operations center if a case comes up, and state officials say they're ready.

"To make our partners more comfortable, we will handle all decontamination, transport and incineration," said Kevin Davis, the head of state homeland security.

State officials are also producing a video on how to wear protective gear, which should be ready next week. They also say they are now adopting a 42-day quarantine period, instead of 21 days, for anyone who may have come in contact with an Ebola patient, who lives in the same household. Finally, state authorities say if a case shows up, a public health emergency will be declared.

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