Gov. Perry announces infectious disease task force

Natalie Sullivan

Gov. Rick Perry announced in a press conference at the Capitol on Monday the creation of a new infectious disease task force to help coordinate the state’s response to Ebola and other infectious diseases.

Perry signed an executive order to create the Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which is headed by Brett Giroir of the Texas A&M Health Science Center. The task force is composed of 17 disease control specialists from around the state. 

Perry said the task force has three main responsibilities: to provide expert assessment and protocols to deal with disease, to develop a plan to deal with the possibility of larger outbreaks, and to serve as a reliable source of information for other organizations and the public. 

“This team will develop a comprehensive, long-term plan to ensure Texas deals effectively with any potential outbreak, building on our State Emergency Plan, and will cover all phases of preparedness and response,” Perry said. 

Perry also called on the federal government to step up screening of travelers at all points of entry into the U.S., including asking travelers about previous destinations, checking temperatures and creating quarantine stations, if necessary. 

Perry said the task force is designed to handle administrative and regulatory matters related to disease control so that other organizations can focus on providing necessary care.

“We’re here in the background to take the load off … and let the experts on the ground do the job they want to do, without worrying about administrative measures,” Perry said. 

The task force will create reports on its findings and recommendations to present to the legislature. The first report is due Dec. 1.