Governor Rick Perry announced on October 6 that Dr. Brett P. Giroir, CEO of the Texas A&M Health Science Center, will assume the role of director of the newly created Texas Task Force on Infectious Disease Preparedness and Response, which will assess and enhance the state’s existing capabilities to prepare for and respond to pandemic disease, such as the Ebola virus. In his new role, Dr. Giroir will head up a team of internationally renowned experts in epidemiology and infectious disease, including several Texas A&M faculty members. Dr. Scott Lillibridge, assistant dean at the Texas A&M Health Science Center School of Public Health was also named to the task force.
The task force will provide expert, evidence-based assessments, protocols and recommendations related to the current Ebola response, and develop a strategic emergency management plan for incident command teams and their partners at the state and local levels of government. This plan will build upon the existing State of Texas Emergency Management Plan, which addresses multiple aspects of preparing for, responding to and recovering from public health and medical crises in the state.
“We live in an interconnected world, where an outbreak anywhere is a risk everywhere. As a result, control of future potential disease outbreaks will present even greater challenges,” Dr. Giroir said. “Preparedness requires clear, decisive, and prospective management aimed not only at rapid response, but also long-term solutions. The timelines for containment of a serious outbreak mandate that we are fully prepared for the worst-case scenario, no matter what form that may take.”
In addition to developing a comprehensive plan to ensure Texas is prepared for the potential of widespread outbreak of infectious diseases, the task force will serve as a resource for Texas leadership and citizens, as well as leaders of other states.
The task force will be comprised of Texas Health and Human Services Executive Commissioner Dr. Kyle Janek and Texas Department of State Health Services Commissioner Dr. David Lakey, as well as public health experts, epidemiologists, and leadership from state agencies that would be involved in the response to a pandemic event.