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Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Temporary Epidemiology Field Assignee program: Supporting state and local preparedness in the wake of Ebola

Victor M Cáceres, Jessica Goodell, Julie Shaffner, Alezandria Turner, Jasmine Jacobs-Wingo, Samir Koirala, Monica Molina, Robynn Leidig, Martín Celaya, Kara McGinnis Pilote, Tiana Garrett-Cherry, Jhetari Carney, Kym Johnson, W Randolph Daley
SAGE Open Medicine 2019, 7: 2050312119850726
31205697

Objectives: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launched the Temporary Epidemiology Field Assignee (TEFA) Program to help state and local jurisdictions respond to the risk of Ebola virus importation during the 2014-2016 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa. We describe steps taken to launch the 2-year program, its outcomes and lessons learned.

Methods: State and local health departments submitted proposals for a TEFA to strengthen local capacity in four key public health preparedness areas: 1) epidemiology and surveillance, 2) health systems preparedness, 3) health communications, and 4) incident management. TEFAs and jurisdictions were selected through a competitive process. Descriptions of TEFA activities in their quarterly reports were reviewed to select illustrative examples for each preparedness area.

Results: Eleven TEFAs began in the fall of 2015, assigned to 7 states, 2 cities, 1 county and the District of Columbia. TEFAs strengthened epidemiologic capacity, investigating routine and major outbreaks in addition to implementing event-based and syndromic surveillance systems. They supported improvements in health communications, strengthened healthcare coalitions, and enhanced collaboration between local epidemiology and emergency preparedness units. Several TEFAs deployed to United States territories for the 2016 Zika Outbreak response.

Conclusion: TEFAs made important contributions to their jurisdictions' preparedness. We believe the TEFA model can be a significant component of a national strategy for surging state and local capacity in future high-consequence events.

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