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Gov. Scott asks CDC for Help on Florida Ebola Prep

Associated Press

Gov. Rick Scott asked federal officials Friday to add Florida airports to the list of the five around the country that have stepped up security to monitor travelers who may be carrying Ebola.

Scott didn't specify whether he wanted all airports or only the state's major airports to have increased safety screenings, saying the federal government should look at airports where potential patients are coming from West Africa. Screeners at airports in Atlanta, Chicago and three others use no-touch thermometers to try to find passengers with fevers.

Scott, who ran a chain of hospitals in the 1990s, is also preparing Florida hospitals, noting something drastically different happened in the way patients were treated in Atlanta versus Dallas. He's asked the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to conduct health care worker training with all Florida hospitals by conference call.

“Why did the nurses in Dallas get Ebola and the ones in Atlanta didn't? What are they doing differently,” said Scott, who has been meeting with airport officials, first responders and health officials around the state. “Any health care worker knows that you find best care practices and you share them.”

The governor previously called on Florida hospitals to hold mandatory training to prepare their employees for Ebola. As of Friday, 46 had reported that their training is complete.

Following the news that a second nurse from Dallas now stricken with the virus was previously allowed to fly, Scott asked the airline to contact all passengers who travelled on that plane for the full 24 hours after her flight.

Scott said the plane made five additional stops, including one into and one out of our Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Frontier Airlines is contacting passengers who were on the plane with Amber Vinson, but Scott wants the company to take additional precautions. The Republican governor, who is in a tight race for re-election against former Gov. Charlie Crist, has been critical of the CDC's response and has repeatedly stressed in recent days the measures he's taking to prevent a possible crisis in the Sunshine State.

“The CDC and the federal government have already admitted they failed to get ahead of the spread of Ebola in Texas and we're not going to let that happen in Florida,” he said.

Earlier this week, state health officials asked for permission to redirect $6 million from federal grants to buy full-body suits for health care workers who may have contact with any potential victims of the virus. 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.

Scott has previously asked for 30 additional Ebola testing kits, but he said Friday that only three have been received. Each kit can test multiple people.

The National Guard has also set up two rapid response teams to handle potential Ebola cases in the state, Scott said.

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