NYC awarded close to $30M to hire 'disease detectives' for future diseases like Ebola and polio

NEW YORK CITY, NY – The Big Apple has reportedly been awarded $28 million to spend on “disease detectives” and other health professionals allegedly to better equip the city should future outbreaks of new COVID-19 variants, mpox, Ebola, and/or polio plague its community.

In a series of public notices, the Health Department said, “New variants of COVID-19 are likely to emerge in the fall/winter, along with other infectious disease outbreaks such as polio and Ebola, causing extensive strain on personnel if temps are unable to be utilized to support NYC’s response activities.”

According to a Health Department spokesman, the $28 million is to be used in two-year contracts with a pair of temp agencies who will search high and low across the country to provide 48 licensed laboratory technicians, clinicians and disease investigators to assist with detecting the diseases and testing antibiotic resistance.

The grant money for the disease detectives comes after close to 125,000 migrants have been illegally bused, flown, and/or dumped into the city since April of 2022. A crisis that Mayor Eric Adams says he sees no end in sight and that will “destroy New York City.”

According to the New York Post, city Health Commissioner Dr. Ashwin Vasan previously warned that nearly half of the migrants entering the city were unvaccinated for polio and that many were coming from or passing through countries with high rates of infectious diseases.

Bill Hammond, senior fellow for health policy at the government watchdog group Empire Center for Public Policy, said that an influx of tens of thousands of individuals unvaccinated for contagious and deadly diseases is cause for concern. 

“Making sure that immigrant arrivals are properly immunized makes sense not just for them," he added, "but for the whole city. The fewer unvaccinated people there are living in New York, the better.”

An agency spokesman claims that the city is always preparing for future emergencies and that the new contracts are unrelated to the influx of unvaccinated migrants. Dr. Jay Varma, who served as senior adviser to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, said in a statement, “New diseases are emerging and then spreading around the world at a rate faster than we’ve ever known before. But we cannot know for sure which disease will be the next one.”

Dr. Varma said that the diseases recorded in the temp-staffing notices were not surprising to him, adding, “They have to justify a procurement by citing recent examples. In reality, they can only predict the general resources they will need – e.g., humans, equipment, supplies, but cannot predict exactly what the next major catastrophe will be.”

Polio, which is a deadly virus, was detected in New York City’s wastewater in 2022. This disease spreads through person-to-person contact and can contaminate food and water in unsanitary conditions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the virus can cause paralysis, which may lead to permanent disability and death. Between two and 10 out of 100 people who suffer from polio paralysis die.

According to the Pan American Health Organization, Ebola causes hemorrhagic fever along with severe vomiting and diarrhea. The virus spreads through contact with bodily fluids from an infected person and has a fatally rate of around 50 percent.
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