A state Senate committee approved a resolution Monday calling for the Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services to look into the state’s response to the ongoing hepatitis A outbreak.
The resolution, sponsored by Sen. Morgan McGarvey, follows an investigative series by the Courier Journal that raised questions about whether the state should have done more to stop the spread of the outbreak, which has sickened more than 4,200 people and killed at least 43.
Testifying before the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, McGarvey stressed that the resolution isn’t about politics or finger-pointing.
“This resolution is a concurrent resolution that will urge the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to look back at the response,” said McGarvey, D-Louisville. “There’s no blame to assign yet because we don’t have any answers, but this is to look at the local health departments, the response that the Cabinet had to say, ‘What happened? How did it happen? And how can we prevent it from happening in the future?’”
Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, commended McGarvey for the resolution. Alvarado referred to the upcoming examination as a form of state peer review, with an eye toward improvement.
“We look forward to the analysis from the state,” said Alvarado, who chairs the Senate Health and Welfare Committee and is Gov. Matt Bevin’s running mate.
Earlier this month, the Cabinet held a press conference, taking issue with some aspects of the newspaper’s series, which documented the impact of the disease in eastern Kentucky and how the state was warned to take a more aggressive approach.
The Cabinet announced its support of the resolution in a March 1 news release.
“Department for Public Health leaders welcome the opportunity to explain the situation to legislators and work collaboratively to identify best practices, service delivery gaps, and other attributes of the response in order to strengthen the public health system’s ability to respond to current and future outbreaks,” the release said.
The resolution will advance to the full Senate.