Trust for America's Health, a nonprofit public health advocacy group, released its fourth annual report "Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Disease, Disasters, and Bioterrorism." The finding: Emergency preparedness in most states is a disaster in itself.
The report found 40 states currently have a shortage of nurses, and 25 states would run out of hospital beds within two weeks of a moderate pandemic flu outbreak. Eleven states and Washington, D.C., lack sufficient capabilities to test for biological threats, and four states don't test year-round for the flu, a necessity in monitoring a pandemic outbreak.
"The nation is nowhere near as prepared as we should be for bioterrorism, bird flu and other health disasters," said Jeff Levi, executive director of TFAH. "We continue to make progress each year, but it is limited. As a whole, Americans face unnecessary and unacceptable levels of risk."
TFAH scored all 50 states and Washington, D.C., on 10 indicators of public health risk management such as: the preparedness level regarding emergency vaccines and medical supplies, biological-threat testing capabilities, year-round testing of flu, hospital-bed surge capacity, nursing shortages and public-health budgets.
Oklahoma scored a 10 and Kansas a nine. Four states were at the bottom of the barrel--California, New Jersey, Maryland and Iowa--achieving only four indicators. All other states scored between five and eight.
February 1, 2007
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