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U.S. Senator Mark Begich issued a statement Tuesday following a briefing by the U.S. Centers of Disease Control (CDC) on the response to the Ebola outbreak and Alaska’s ability to respond to and prevent the spread of the disease.
“Though an outbreak in Alaska is highly unlikely, I know that Alaskans are concerned about Ebola—especially in view of Alaska’s position as an international transportation hub,” said Begich. “Though Alaska is very low in terms of risk for possible transmission of the disease, I still want to make sure Alaska agencies and families have an opportunity to prepare now. The CDC is currently working closely with the State’s public health laboratory in Anchorage to ensure that proper testing protocols are being put into place and officials confirmed that, if necessary, they could deploy a rapid response team to Alaska to manage an emerging situation.”
During the briefing Begich pressed the CDC to have Ebola test kits, which are currently only being distributed to high risk areas, available in Alaska as a precautionary measure. Begich also emphasized the need for frequent communications with the public to ensure accurate information is available to dispel rumors.
Begich sits on the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee and is a member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on the Department of Homeland Security—both will play a major role in determining funding levels necessary to prevent and treat Ebola in the U.S. and in sub-Saharan Africa.