MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Health officials are in the process of tracking down dozens of passengers who flew to and from Fort Lauderdale this week on Frontier airlines. It’s the very same jetliner the nurse who is sick with Ebola took to Dallas a day earlier.READ MORE: Cyclist Killed In Overnight Hit And Run In Kendall
Earlier in the day, U.S. Senator Marco Rubio expressed concern that Miami, which is known as the Gateway to the Americas, could also turn into the gateway to Ebola if Caribbean and Latin America countries are not at the same level of preparedness.
“If there is an Ebola outbreak or Ebola cases in Brazil or an Ebola outbreak in the Caribbean or in Central America, or anywhere in the Western Hemisphere for that matter, the chances are that someone who interacted with that person will come through here in some way, shape or form,” said Rubio.
A case of Ebola in South Florida would be a rarity, according to Rubio who added that those on the front lines, like airports and hospitals, should be ready.
Rubio has met with Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Emilio Gonzalez, the director of Miami International Airport, to discuss their state of readiness should a case of Ebola be confirmed in South Florida.
“It’s important to not panic but to be serious about it and try to get ahead of it,” said Rubio.
Gonzalez said they have a plan in place.READ MORE: Taste Of The Town: More To Mediterranean Dining At Abba Telavivian Kitchen In South Beach
“We’re limiting the gray areas to as few as possible, we’ll probably have it out by the end of next week,” said Gonzalez, “We’ll exercise it a couple of times.”
Rubio says one of bigger factors of being prepared is education.
“If you’re a police officer that’s suddenly called to the terminal because someone fainted, and you’re first reaction is to put hands on them to try to help them, you could become infected, what can we do to help police officers, clearly with firefighters as well,” said Rubio.
In Miami-Dade, Jackson Memorial Hospital is where a anyone suspected of having contracted Ebola will be taken and tested.
Several people in South Florida in South Florida have been tested for Ebola based on the Centers for Disease Control protocols in the last 48 hours, but turned out to not be suspect cases. One of them came in through Port Miami.
“I know there is a lot of attention being paid to this and it’s important because this is a serious issue. It is not a cause for panic, but it is a cause for a concern to be addressed,” said Rubio.
State officials have arranged for conference calls between the CDC and the state’s hospitals to discuss best training and personal protective equipment protocols.
Florida is redirecting $7 million in federal grant money to Ebola preparedness, specifically to purchase high level personal protection equipment for first responders and health care workers.MORE NEWS: ‘Just Really Shaken Up’: CBS4 Crew Attacked On South Beach While Working Story About Efforts To Cut Down On Violence There
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