The bill is coming due for Minnesota’s exhaustive efforts last fall to safeguard the state against the threat of the Ebola virus.
An infectious disease expert from the Minnesota Department of Health told legislators on Wednesday that it cost more than $1 million to create an effective surveillance and response system in the event that any Minnesotans were infected by the deadly virus.
“It’s really a trauma response for infectious disease,” said Kris Ehresmann, the state health expert, in testimony to the Senate Committee on Health, Human Services and Housing.
While $122,000 in supplemental federal funding helped cover Minnesota’s Ebola surveillance efforts, Ehresmann said her department has made a special request for additional funds to cover the balance. At one point, more than 40 workers were pulled from other duties to focus on Ebola.
The federal funding that pays for 85 percent of her department’s usual activities is fairly restrictive, and can’t be diverted to cover the Ebola costs, Ehresmann said.
There are no U.S. cases at the moment, but the outbreak has infected more than 21,000 people and killed more than 8,400 in the west African nations of Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia — a country that is particularly problematic for Minnesota, which hosts a large Liberian immigrant population.