PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Pennsylvania health officials said Friday they will rely on federal travel data to identify and monitor people who arrive in the state after spending time in Ebola-stricken West African nations.
A state Department of Health spokeswoman said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s lists of travelers and their possible risk factors are a key component of enhanced monitoring that begins Monday.
Pennsylvania is among the first six states in the new CDC program. The others are New York, Maryland, Virginia, New Jersey and Georgia. Together, they represent 70 percent of people arriving from the three West African countries, according to the CDC.
State health spokeswoman Aimee Tysarczyk said officials are primarily keeping tabs on travelers coming to Pennsylvania via five out-of-state airports — two are in the New York area, one is near Washington, D.C. — where the CDC is already checking passengers for signs of the deadly virus.
Pennsylvania airports have no direct flights from the three West African countries, and Tysarczyk said no special monitoring will be set up at airports within the state.
Tysarczyk said travelers from Liberia, Sierra Leone and New Guinea will be given a CARE kit — the acronym stands for Check and Report Ebola — consisting of a thermometer, a log book to track body temperatures and symptoms, fact sheets and a contact list with 24-hour Health Department phone numbers.
They will be asked to check in with officials twice a day for three weeks via phone, video chat or in person. In some counties, the local health department will take charge.
Tysarczyk said the state Health Department will update its website each Monday with the number of people being monitored, but it won’t break down those numbers on a county-by-county level.
She said the monitoring protocols could change as the CDC shares new information about the virus and approaches to stemming its spread evolve.
“This situation is fluid,” Tysarczyk said. “We will continue to make adjustments should any protocols change across the board.”
She said no special monitoring will be set up at international airports in Philadelphia or Pittsburgh. Neither airport has direct flights to the affected countries.
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