- Associated Press - Thursday, October 16, 2014

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) - Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Thursday ordered all hospitals in Connecticut to test their preparedness to handle potential Ebola cases by next week, so state officials can see if their procedures are up to standard.

Malloy also established a command team to act as a central authority to deal with any Ebola cases in the state. The team is led by Public Health Commissioner Dr. Jewell Mullen and includes officials from state agencies for public safety, education, prison and environmental protection.

One of the team’s responsibilities, Malloy said, will be to make sure that first responders and hospital personnel are properly trained to deal with potential Ebola cases.

The moves come amid a continuing outbreak of Ebola in western Africa, where the death toll is nearing 4,500, and growing concerns about the disease spreading in the U.S. Three people in the U.S. have tested positive for Ebola. Two nurses in Dallas contracted the virus after caring for Liberian patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died of the disease.

“I want everyone to know, from the nurses in our emergency rooms to our first responders and our law enforcement personnel, we will provide whatever resources we have at our disposal so that they can do their critical work and perform it safely,” Malloy said.

Dr. Mary Cooper, quality director at the Connecticut Hospital Association, said all 28 hospitals in the state that the association represents already have completed an Ebola preparedness checklist recently issued by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. She welcomed the governor’s order for drills and said hospitals have been preparing for potential Ebola cases for weeks.

Last week, the governor declared a public health emergency to prepare. The order gave Mullen the authority to quarantine people who officials believe have either been exposed to or infected with Ebola.

Mullen used that authority Thursday for the first time for a patient at Yale-New Haven Hospital who was isolated Wednesday night after developing a fever shortly after returning from Liberia, although hospital officials already had segregated the patient and were following protocols set by federal health officials. Tests for Ebola came back negative.

The patient was one of two doctoral students at Yale University who were in Liberia from mid-September until last week, helping government officials set up a computer system to track Ebola. Yale officials said the students didn’t have any contact with Ebola patients but did have contact with a person who later contracted the disease.

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