Public health emergencies can strike at any time. Whether COVID-19 produces a new variant or a totally unrelated pandemic emerges, we all want to live in a place equipped and ready to handle the next crisis.
A new report — “Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism” — suggests 17 states and the District of Columbia are ready to perform at a high level during the next health crisis.
The report from Trust for America’s Health attempts to measure each state’s level of preparedness for both handling a spectrum of health emergencies and offering health services during such trying times, including everything from providing safe water to administering flu vaccines.
According to the report, the places in the U.S. that are ready to perform at a high level during the next crisis are:
- District of Columbia
- New Jersey
- South Carolina
Looking at the list, it is interesting to see that it covers the gamut, states from all regions of the U.S. and those considered both “red” and “blue” politically.
Trust for America’s Health says that in the past year, three states — Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina — improved their performance so much that they jumped from the bottom tier all the way up to the top.
The report placed 20 states in the middle tier, while 13 languish in the low-performing tier. Those in the bottom category are:
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
In a press release, J. Nadine Gracia, president and CEO of Trust for America’s Health, says she hopes federal and state officials use the findings to identify gaps in public health preparedness and take steps that will help them better protect lives and the economy during the next health emergency. She says:
“The major takeaway of this report is that underinvestment in the nation’s public health system, and attacks on its authority, have had deadly consequences during the COVID-19 pandemic. Action and investment are urgently needed.”
The report features a number of policy recommendations, including:
- Urging the U.S. Congress and individual states to provide more funding for public health, including for infrastructure, data systems and the public health workforce
- Asking Congress to create a COVID-19 commission to review and address gaps in the pandemic response
- Recommending that policymakers invest in vaccination infrastructure and antibiotic-resistance programs, while also providing paid leave for all workers
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