Senators grill state officials on preparedness for possibility of Ebola in Missouri
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Senators grill state officials on preparedness for possibility of Ebola in Missouri

Date: October 22, 2014
By: Steven Anthony
State Capitol Bureau

Intro: 
After a series of "I don't knows" from the Health Department director on the state's preparedness for Ebola, the Senate Appropriations Committee chair says future Health Department directors should have a medical or science background.
RunTime:  0:42
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Columbia Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer called a public forum to discuss Missouri's response should there be an Ebola case in the state.

However, the conversation quickly turned to the qualifications of Health and Senior Services director Gail Vasterling.

She is a lawyer and Schaefer took issue with her lack of medical expertise.

Actuality:  EBOLA.WAV
Run Time:  00:10
Description: "So when you make determinations of what should be done, you're not necessarily making your own determinations. You're relying on the scientific or medical opinion of someone else, correct?" "Yes."

Schaefer suggested after the forum that he would be open to changing the statutory requirements for someone to become the department's director.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony, NewsRadio 1120 KMOX.

Intro: 
One mid-Missouri senator has a major issue with the state's lack of its own plan to prepare for Ebola.
RunTime:  0:36
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Columbia Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer asked Health and Senior Services Director Gail Vasterling where Ebola waste would be disposed.

Actuality:  EBOLA2.WAV
Run Time:  00:11
Description: "Where would that be disposed of in the state of Missouri?" "We do not have a facility in the state of Missouri. We would have to find a facility outside of the state of Missouri."

Vasterling then said any waste containing Ebola could be incinerated, or burned, but Missouri doesn't have a facility for that either.

Schaefer said after the hearing his questions were not adequately answered.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony, NewsRadio 1120 KMOX.   

Intro: 
One Missouri Republican senator wants to know if Governor Jay Nixon has had any Cabinet-level discussions about Ebola
RunTime:  0:44
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: The Senate's only physician Dr. Rob Schaaf repeatedly asked Health and Senior Services director Gail Vasterling if Governor Jay Nixon has been involved in any discussions about the state's preparedness for Ebola.

Actuality:  EBOLA3.WAV
Run Time:  00:19
Description: "No, but I've talked with him about it." "So he has not had any Cabinet-level discussions about it?" "Um..." "It's OK. I mean, I just want to know." "Well, I'm just trying to think of the last Cabinet meeting and how that plays into what the timeline is for what we're dealing with and it may have been before this was an issue."

The public forum was called by the Senate Appropriations Committee chair in response to concerns about the state's preparedness for Ebola.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony, NewsRadio 1120 KMOX.

Intro: 
A couple of Missouri Senate Republicans have proposed a travel ban into Missouri from West Africa.
RunTime:  0:42
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: Columbia Republican Senator Kurt Schaefer agreed with his colleagues that a travel ban may be appropriate to protect the United States and Missouri from being infected by Ebola.

Actuality:  EBOLA4.WAV
Run Time:  00:04
Description: "I think other than humanitarian aid, there should be a travel ban. Yes, I absolutely agree with that."

The only veterinarian in Missouri's Senate Dan Brown agreed when he talked about university students going home to an affected country and returning after break.

Actuality:  EBOLA5.WAV
Run Time:  00:07
Description: "In my opinion, they shouldn't be allowed to even come here to start with if you're concerned about an infectious disease."

The call for a travel ban from Brown and Schaefer comes after national politicians calling for one as well.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony, NewsRadio 1120 KMOX.

Intro: 
The Senate's only licensed veterinarian attacked the state health department director for failing to have a comprehensive plan for Ebola.
RunTime:  0:38
OutCue:  SOC

Wrap: The Rolla veterinarian's attack came after the state health department director repeatedly said her department was leaving it up to the federal government for plans.

That brought words of frustration from Rolla senator Dan Brown.

Actuality:  EBOLA6.WAV
Run Time:  00:16
Description: "CDC Director pretty much says, 'well, it's up to the states.' And then, we've got all these different federal groups 'I'm in charge of this, I'm in charge of something else.' There's so much compartmentalization that nobody seems to have a plan which totally amazes me."

Brown also called for restrictions on travel into Missouri from West Africa.

Reporting from the state Capitol, I'm Steven Anthony, NewsRadio 1120 KMOX.


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