By William Patrick | Florida Watchdog
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — There are no confirmed cases of the Ebola virus in Florida, but state health officials are spending millions preparing for possible infections.
EBOLA: The Florida Department of Health is spending millions to prepare for possible Ebola infections.
That much was revealed in a letter signed by state Surgeon General John Armstrong, which was supplied to Watchdog.org by a public health joint information center.
Armstrong notified CDC Director Thomas Frieden on Tuesday the Florida Department of Health is redirecting over $7 million in funding “to strengthen Florida’s preparedness efforts related to the emerging Ebola threat.”
That includes the immediate use of $250,000 of Hospital Preparedness Funds, and $1 million of Public Health Emergency Preparedness funds.
The hospital allocation comes from a federal program intended to boost overall hospital capabilities at both the state and local levels.
The public emergency funding is deemed “critical” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and is directed to health departments to improve emergency capabilities, including responses to infectious diseases.
Watchdog.org contacted the state department of health for further clarification, but all media inquiries are routed back to a joint information center — a public information entity set up to coordinate official responses among relevant agencies and organizations.
A request for comment from the JIC was not immediately returned.
Armstrong indicated the FDOH plans to spend an additional $1.8 million in hospital preparedness funds and another $4 million of emergency funds to purchase “personal protective equipment.”
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, personal protective equipment is used to minimize exposure to serious workplace injuries and illnesses.
The spending comes amid news a second Dallas hospital worker contracted the disease while treating now-deceased Liberian Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan.
A JIC statement released Monday said the FDOH was developing a system to provide certain hospitals with “readiness packages” in the event of a suspected infection.