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Cuomo says state preparing for potential Ebola cases

Gov. Andrew Cuomo (far right) is designating eight hospitals as Ebola treatment centers in New York state.

There are no known cases of Ebola in New York, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state officials are making preparations in case one occurs and have identified eight hospitals, including Upstate Medical University Hospital in Syracuse, as Ebola care centers.

Cuomo says the eight hospitals around the state have been identified as Ebola treatment centers, and personnel at all 200 of the state’s hospitals will be trained how to respond if a person with Ebola walks into their emergency room.

In addition, emergency responders will rehearse various scenarios, including what to do if someone gets sick on the subway or in the airport, and how to get the patient to the hospital without infecting anybody else. Schools and colleges will also be informed of how to handle a possible Ebola outbreak.

Cuomo says there’s no reason to panic.  

“There’s a semi-hysteria about it, which is understandable,” Cuomo said. “But it’s not backed up by the numbers or the probability or the facts that we have at this time.”

But Cuomo says he would not be surprised if a case did occur.

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker says it’s more important than ever that New Yorkers get their flu shots this year, so if they develop a fever or other symptoms, the flu can be ruled out.

Cuomo's opponent in the governor's race, Republican candidate Rob Astorino, says the governor should ban all flights from West Africa. Cuomo says only the president or federal authorities can do that.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.