When the Center for Disease Control issues a warning about a large outbreak of Tuberculosis(TB), a rational person would prepare to address the issue; perhaps notify the local hospitals or shelters. If the area had a top-notch treatment center, I suspect notifying them would likely be at the top of one’s to-do list as governor.
Instead, Governor Rick Scott of Florida ordered the shutdown of the state’s only TB treatment facility, the A G Holley State Hospital in Lantana, Florida – part of a larger Department of Health budget cut signed just nine days before the state was notified. The shutdown was accelerated after the notice was given, and the facility shut down 6 months ahead of schedule back in June. The reason given; austerity, in order to fund the tax cuts for the rich.
Of course, the cost to treat a TB patient early is typically $500, however if prolonged, drug resistant TB strains which do develop can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. And once those appear, the diseases contagious nature make it sure to spread rapidly, especially in areas effected by the layoffs for water treatment plants. So much for austerity.
As the Palm Beach Post reported, it appeared that the governor had been actively hiding the CDC report from lawmakers just before they ordered the closing of the state’s sole TB treatment center. Despite the confirmed deaths by TB and the thousands exposed to the disease, the governor felt that saving a few hundred dollars per patient was worth the looming crisis in the state. Now it appears that containment of the disease is no longer an option, and with TB being incredibly contagious, called “Consumption” for those who recall the works of Charles Dickens, the danger to the state looms large.
The truly despicable piece of this story, however, is that the information was actively hid by the governors office. Under Florida’s Sunshine Laws, reports such as the CDC warning are to be kept in the public domain for ease of access. Instead, it took months for the Palm Beach Post to break the story, and by then the damage had been done, the treatment facility closed, and thousands of Florida citizens have been exposed to the deadly disease. Governor Scott’s objectivist driven ideology has landed his state in a severe crisis, one in which his corporate masters can never hope to address.
But hey, he’s working hard to make sure that 92-year-old WWII veterans can’t vote, it must have slipped his mind.
For our readers in Florida, if you begin to show any of the signs of Tuberculosis do not wait. Get yourself tested and treated immediately.
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*Correction* An error in the timeline of cancellation where the bill to authorize the shutdown was signed after the CDC notice. It should have said nine days before the notice was delivered.