Update: Gov. Rick Perry and his presidential hair have returned from their European jaunt and the two (Perry and his hair) held a press conference on Friday to reassure us all that while Patrick and Sen. Ted Cruz have opinions about what to do, Perry is the guy getting things done.
Perry stated that he had joined Patrick, Cruz and the rest of Republican chorus in calling for President Obama to enact an air travel ban from the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak (he actually asked Obama to do this during a phone call between the two on Thursday.) "Air travel is how this disease crosses borders, and it's certainly how it got here to Texas," Perry says, though he went on to stipulate there should be exceptions for aid workers.
Plus, Perry had news from his Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, created earlier this month. Despite Patrick's claims in a release issued this morning that the task force wouldn't have recommendations until December, Perry had a whole list of things his team is already recommending:
"Establishment of two Ebola treatment centers in Texas; Establishment of specialized patient transport teams; Expanded training of infectious disease protocols for health care workers; More testing labs for infectious disease; and increased authority for Department of State Health Services chief to issue enforceable control orders." Those who have been worrying about the dreaded Ebola can stop right now because the guy who will most likely be the next lieutenant governor of Texas has determined both the cause of the epically mishandled Ebola mess and the solution. Yep, you can turn those frowns upside down and put down the industrial-sized barrels of hand sanitizer because state Sen. Dan Patrick has got this one.
In a statement issued Friday morning, Patrick explained that while Texas has been at the center of the repeatedly mismanaged containment of the nation's first Ebola patient, the fault for the many, many missteps lies with the federal government. Specifically:
"It's no surprise the first case of the Ebola virus to present itself in the United States was in Texas. We are this nation's leading economy and a hub for international travel. This otherwise enviable position in the global economy comes with unwanted risks.
It's also no surprise that Washington has failed us once again; failure to properly screen all travelers at ports of entry, and a failure to provide meaningful support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."
See, Texas was almost always going to end up with an Ebola patient because we're so important and all (and hey, it's true -- there are reasons we slap outlines of the Lone Star State on anything that will stand still). Patrick makes no mention of the fact that one of the best hospitals in Dallas completely dropped the ball, that the renowned (up until now, anyway) Texas Health Presbyterian not only failed to recognize that Thomas Eric Duncan had recently arrived from disease-ravaged Liberia with Ebola-like symptoms but turned him away the first time he came to the hospital.
And he doesn't mention that somehow the people providing care for Duncan were assumed to have magical powers or something (we assume) to keep them Ebola-free and thus they weren't provided the gear advised for handling the diseases by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The fact that Dallas county officials forced Duncan's family to remain in the apartment he stayed in while his bodily fluids were incredibly contagious is also left out of Patrick's survey of the events of the last few weeks. But yeah, despite the many local mistakes made in attempting to handle and contain Ebola, Patrick is lobbing all the blame at the federal government.
"We must not allow Washington's failures to continue to jeopardize the health and safety of Texans. Texas must continue to lead, and take steps to stop the spread of Ebola and other infectious diseases," he stated. "Texas will provide it's own solution to this public health threat."
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He name checks the labs at University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston as proof that Texas can handle this on its own. Plus, we've got Gov. Rick Perry's task force set up to study the problem and make recommendations, though they won't even be making said recommendations until December. And in addition to all that, the Texas Senate is going to tackle the problem when they reconvene. In short, Texas doesn't need the federal government to help handle this thing.
Or, as Patrick tells it:
"Texas can and must develop our own protocols and procedures to address future cases of Ebola. We need to develop better communications channels, pathways for collaboration, and a chain of command to address serious public health threats. Any solution must meet the unique needs of all Texans, rural, suburban, and urban.
Texas is better equipped than anyplace else in America to address these threats. We are home to many of the world's finest medical minds. We already host significant centers of excellence in medicine. I will not allow failures of the federal government to threaten the public health of Texans. We will act in Texas to defend our citizens from the threat of infectious diseases."
So yeah, we can all relax now, because Patrick has got this one under control. Besides, Perry just brought the finest head of hair in professional politics back from Europe so that he too can add his Texas-brand of expertise to handling Ebola. Because, you know, we've done so well so far.