JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Health officials are addressing the next step in containing tuberculosis cases on the First Coast.
State lawmakers took part in a roundtable discussion with health leaders Thursday.
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"What some would say is an audacious goal," said Dr. John Armstrong, Florida Surgeon General, "I say it's an ambitious goal for the right reasons."
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The goal is to screen 90% of the homeless population considered possibly at risk for TB in six weeks.
Testing for tuberculosis among the Jacksonville homeless is already underway. Armstrong said the state and local health departments have been working closely with the hospitals, homeless coalition and shelters, and now it's time to take the strike teams to the streets.
"This population, our disadvantaged population, they can be hard to find," Armstrong said. "A benefit of the resources we're bringing in is that we get out to where our citizens are. We're not expecting them to come to us; that's not going to work."
State representatives and senators fired questions at Duval County Health Department Director Robert Harmon and Armstrong.
Some questions regarding the cost of the strike teams. Neither Harmon nor Armstrong could provide an estimate.
"I'm just trying to understand how it is you can have a plan," said state Senator Audrey Gibson, "Without having some base estimate of cost."
Armstrong said an estimate should be available next week.
But now, Armstrong hopes to clear up confusion about the outbreak.
"There is not tuberculosis across the homeless community," Armstrong said. "That is not what is happening."
He said there are currently 39 cases of TB in Jacksonville, a small number compared to the thousands of homeless.
First Coast News