Connecticut Governor Declares State of Emergency Over Ebola as a Precaution
The order gives the state the authority to quarantine and isolate people who may have been exposed to the virus
HARTFORD, CT – OCTOBER 5: Stamford Mayor and Democratic nominee Dannel Malloy addresses the press after his debate with former U.S. Ambassador to Ireland, businessman and Republican nominee Tom Foley outside the Belding Theater at the Bushnell Center for Performing Arts October 5, 2010 in Hartford, Connecticut. Malloy and Foley, who are in a close race for Governor, spoke about creating jobs, the death penalty among other issues. (Photo by Bettina Hansen-Pool/Getty Images)
Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014 • Updated at 12:40 PM EDT
Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy has declared a public health emergency for the state as a precaution during the Ebola epidemic that is affecting several countries in western Africa.
He signed an order declaring the emergency on Tuesday and it gives 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 this 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,” the letter says.
“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,” Malloy said in a statement. “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.”
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.”
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick’s office said the laws in the Bay State are different than Connecticut, so a State of Emergency is not needed to give the state health commissioner the authority to quarantine and isolate people believed to have been exposed to the Ebola virus.