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Intro to TEPHI

- [Jennifer] When you're dealing with a novel virus, there isn't a playbook, so everyone kind of had to learn on the job. - We were slow to develop diagnostic tests and treatments. - When we think about our response to COVID-19, and it is important that we do this analysis to identify where there were gaps that we could have done better. - We felt we could kind of take lessons learned from that experience, and that's really where TEPHI was born. - TEPHI stands for the Texas Epidemic Public Health Institute. - TEPHI is a laser focus on preparing Texas for a next outbreak, a next epidemic, or a next pandemic, so we can help keep more people healthy, keep more of our kids in school learning, and keep our businesses operating safely. We are partnering with UT Health Houston School of Public Health. That partnership really brings the very best in public health sciences to pandemic preparedness. - Having a state-based or regional response really allows you to have relationships with people who can have boots on the ground that you just don't have from a federal level. - We collaborate with other academic institutions, with other health departments, with businesses. We have created an advisory board of first responders and health departments so that we can train and prepare Texans for outbreaks of infectious diseases. TEPHI is organized into three major areas, training, readiness, and communications. - One of our key goals is to provide training to individuals in their communities and their businesses and organizations who have a basic understanding of infectious disease and how to respond to it. - Business owners can take the certificate program. People can go to our TEPHI talks or our grand rounds and learn about how to keep their home and their businesses safe. Schools can work with TEPHI to understand how they can keep children safe, keep the teachers safe. - We are also working very hard to ready Texans for the next outbreak. It includes our early detection programs in wastewater, and in the future air, so that we can target treatments and ready the hospital systems that they may soon be seeing this particular disease. - We're looking at a panel of other viruses from polio, monkeypox, flu, RSV, with the idea that we could potentially find a novel virus in the future and determine whether it poses a threat before we get this far down the road. - The final part of TEPHI is public health communications, getting our public, getting our elected leaders accurate information in a timely manner, and frequently. - We're working to develop specific training and resources, making information more publicly accessible and understandable. We want to be a trustworthy source of information, and in order to do so, we have to be very transparent about what we know and what we don't know, and be able to communicate risk in a way that allows people to understand it and then make decisions that they feel comfortable with. - In the future, we're ready to help local public health help state public health, and we'll be able to monitor how viruses are evolving so we can stay one step ahead. Then we're not going to stop these infectious agents, but what we want to do is to be able to respond earlier and keep them at a low level before they grow out of control. And so we'll be able to accomplish this dual mission of keeping people healthy and also keeping the economy strong. - I hope people will think of TEPHI as a partner. We want to be there to provide the resources and really serve our state by ensuring that we are better prepared and our agencies are better prepared, and anything TEPHI do to support that, we're here to do. - I am sure that because we have TEPHI, and as TEPHI fulfills its mission, Texas will be better prepared, and Texans will be better prepared for a next infectious disease outbreak. (relaxing music) [Nobacomm Logo on screen]