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Harkin Statement On CDC Announcement of Ebola Case in Texas

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA), Chairman of both the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee and the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services and Education (the LHHS subcommittee), released the following statement after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced that an individual who had traveled recently in Liberia has been diagnosed with Ebola in Dallas, Texas, the first Ebola case diagnosed in the United States.

“Today’s announcement of the first case of Ebola to be diagnosed in the United States is a critical reminder of the continued need for robust investments in our nation’s public health and preparedness systems. I am heartened that the patient diagnosed in Texas has been isolated and that doctors in Texas are providing the best care possible, as safely as possible, and that public officials in Texas and at the CDC are hard at work in response to this case. 

“When Congress returns in November, I hope we will vote to continue and build on the $88 million I secured in the CR to support the health care efforts in controlling the spread of Ebola. This is a crucial investment that will enable 100 CDC scientists to continue working in West Africa, and it will keep ZMAPP and vaccine candidates moving quickly through clinical trials. This is a critical first step, but we must do more.

“A strong response to the Ebola outbreak starts with a strong investment in the CDC and other public health agencies working on the frontlines of this epidemic. It’s critical to stop the dis-investment in the development of vaccines and treatments, by restoring funds lost to austerity cuts and inflation at NIH and BARDA. CDC must have the equipment and resources it needs to ensure we have a state-of-the-art public health agency protecting America. A robust CDC is necessary so that their epidemiologists can work with state and local health departments to identify and respond to exactly these kinds of events.”

Throughout his career, Harkin has worked to build a global health architecture. As Chair of the Health Appropriations subcommittee, Senator Harkin has worked for years to secure additional funding at CDC to set up a network of disease detection centers across the globe. And as Chairman of the Senate HELP Committee, Senator Harkin co-authored and championed the passage of the  Pandemic All-Hazards Preparedness Reauthorization Act of 2013 (PAHPRA), making critical improvements to the nation’s ability to respond to public health threats ranging from bioterrorism and pandemic influenza to small pox and Ebola.

On September 16, Senator Harkin convened a joint hearing regarding “Ebola in West Africa: A Global Challenge and Public Health Threat,” as chair of both the HELP Committee and the Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittee.  This joint hearing was the first hearing in the U.S. Senate regarding Ebola.