The nation’s Ebola crisis has yet to reach Florida, but state officials want to spend millions to prepare for a possible outbreak.
This week, top health official asked for permission to redirect money from federal grants to buy full body suits for health care workers who may have contact with any potential victims of the virus.
Dr. John Armstrong, secretary of the Department of Health, said in a letter to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that the state wants to spend more than $7 million on the effort. The state plans to start spending more than $1 million from accounts it controls, but is seeking a green light to use federal grant money for the rest of the purchases.
Gov. Rick Scott has previously asked for 100 special suits from the federal government as well as 30 additional Ebola testing kits but the request has not been granted.
Florida does not have any confirmed cases of the virus, which is transmitted through direct contact with bodily fluids and not through the air.
Scott said he wants the federal government to act within the next 48 hours now that it has been reported that a second Dallas nurse caught the disease from a patient.
“In light of this second case in Dallas today, we are asking the CDC to support our work to redirect these federal funds for Ebola preparedness,” Scott said in a statement.
Scott previously called on hospitals to hold mandatory training to prepare their employees for Ebola. The department reported Wednesday that only 39 hospitals in Florida have reported that their training is complete.
The governor has also asked federal officials to brief Florida hospitals in the next two days on how to be prepared.
“We have to act with a sense of urgency to ensure our hospitals are prepared,” said Scott, who ran a chain of hospitals in the `90s.