Three people have now been diagnosed with Ebola in the U.S. and one of them has died. The small outbreak seems to have been contained to just one Dallas hospital, but fear of the virus spreading is high. The U.S. has stringent measures in place to prevent infection, but stories of cruise ship passengers and Bostonians possibly exposed to the virus have fueled fear throughout the country.
This week New Jersey Governor Chris Christie sought to reassure his state’s citizens that they are safe from Ebola. Christie announced on Wednesday that an Ebola preparedness plan has been activated in the state. The plan will direct New Jersey state departments, hospitals, and security to undertake measures to prevent Ebola from entering the state.
Today, I am at Hackensack University Medical Center to announce the Ebola Virus Disease Joint Response Team.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 22, 2014
The plan was put in action through Executive Order 164, which created an Ebola Virus Disease and Respone Team (EVD-JRT) for New Jersey. The team is composed of six members including the state’s attorney general; the state’s director of the Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness; and the superintendent of the New Jersey State Police. The EVD-JRT will coordinate New Jersey’s public health response to the Ebola outbreak.
“My first and primary mission as Governor always is to protect the public health and safety of every resident of our state,” said Christie. “Ebola also presents the challenge of defeating overreaction and fear in the public, and we can do that by creating a coordinated response and using a team of individuals already highly tested and experienced in dealing with public emergencies in our state. This should reassure the public that we are doing all in our power to protect against the arrival or spread of Ebola in New Jersey.”
No cases of Ebola have been diagnosed in New Jersey and the state is not at immediate risk from the virus. Christie stated that a traveler from West Africa who landed at Newark Liberty International Airport on Tuesday was taken to University Hospital in Newark, but was not found to have any symptoms of Ebola.
New Jersey’s preparedness plan is one of the most elaborate yet announced by a U.S. state. Christie is expected to be a candidate for the Republican nomination for U.S. president in 2016 despite the political difficulties he encountered earlier this year.
The current Ebola outbreak is the most widespread seen in human history. More than 4,800 people have died from the virus since the outbreak began in March. Most of those deaths have come in three West African countries: Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone. Liberia has been particularly hard hit, with its capital, Monrovia, nearly crippled by Ebola.