AUSTIN (AP/KXAN) — The state health commissioner says Texas has a strong response system capable of preventing an Ebola outbreak — even though human error is always a possibility. Health and Human Services Commission Executive Director Kyle Janek says Texans “should be confident of our ability to get our arms around” the virus. His comments came at a Texas Senate committee hearing Tuesday in Austin.
“This was an informative hearing, to allow us to hear as elected officials from our state health regulatory agency heads as well as experts in the field of pulmonology and infectious disease,” said Committee Chair Senator Charles Schwertner.
The Health and Human Services Committee heard from the doctor who’s treating Ebola patient Eric Duncan in Dallas.
“This is a terribly unfortunate event for Mr. Duncan, and the best we can hope for at this point is to learn from it on the state end and wish him a speedy recovery,” said Janek.
Janek is part of the Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response that Gov. Rick Perry created Monday. The Task Force is identifying areas for improvement and will work to move lawmakers to take action.
“We will have lessons learned from this first patient. We need to learn them, we need to implement them and we need to change legislation as may be necessary. We live in an interconnected world and if there is an epidemic anywhere it will affect us here in Texas,” said Dr. Brett Giroir, the director of the task force.
Schwertner says the information gathered Tuesday will help lawmakers address public health needs moving forward.
At Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, officials list Thomas Eric Duncan, the first confirmed U.S. case of Ebola, in critical condition. Duncan was sent home following an initial hospital visit, despite telling medical personnel he’d traveled in Liberia. He was eventually diagnosed with Ebola.
A hospital official told the committee it’s paying for Duncan’s treatment for now. It was unclear, though, if he’ll remain a “charity case.”