We are just learning about 13 deaths in the Jacksonville area from tuberculosis, from an outbreak the government kept secret.
The CDC warned Florida health officials in April, but that warning was never made public.
And, as Florida doctors battled the deadly outbreak this spring, state leaders decided to shut down A.G. Holley, the only tuberculosis hospital in the state.
It all has several lawmakers infuriated.
"It's just preposterous," said Tampa State Representative Janet Cruz. "It didn't make sense even then before we had the information."
Duval County asked the CDC for help in February. Two months later, Florida lawmakers voted to close A.G. Holley hospital by the end of the year. Then as the CDC raised concerns, Florida accelerated the plan. A.G Holley closed last week.
"Well, the first thing that goes through my heart is outrage," said St. Petersburg State Representative Darryl Rouson. "We now ought to address this problem and address it now before we lose more lives and before the illness spreads."
The state health department apparently knew about the outbreak, but did not disclose it to the public, or to state lawmakers who had to vote on public health funding.
"We normally do not advertise the fact that we're doing investigations, number one, to protect people whose identity should not be disclosed and, number two, we only identify an investigation when there's a need to get help perhaps from the media to identify people who may have come into contact with a contagious organism," said Florida Department of Health spokesman Dr. Steven Harris.
State representative Rachel Burgin from Tampa co-sponsored the bill to close A.G. Holley. She did not know about the outbreak, but still supports her bill. She said tuberculosis is rare and other hospitals can treat it.
Supporters say closing A.G. Holly may save the state up to ten million dollars a year. Critics say it will drive up costs elsewhere.
FOX 13 / WTVT-TV
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