Florida is a top-tier performer for public health preparedness despite a new report calling for urgent investments in the public health system’s emergency response efforts.
The report, Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, was released on Thursday by Trust for America’s Health and measures states’ performance on 10 key emergency preparedness indicators during emergencies– like degree of preparedness to respond to a wide spectrum of health emergencies and to provide ongoing public health services, including disease surveillance, seasonal flu vaccination, safe water, and expanded healthcare services — and identifies gaps in states’ readiness to respond to emergencies. The report includes policy recommendations for strengthening the nation’s health security
Additionally, it tiers states and the District of Columbia into three performance levels: high, middle and low, placing 17 states and DC in the high-performance tier, 20 states in the middle-performance tier, and 13 states in the low-performance tier. The 2021 report placed 20 states, including the Sunshine State, in the high-performance tier. The report also found that 12 states improved their performance while 16 states slipped in their ranking, while three states,
Notably, Ohio, Pennsylvania and South Carolina, improved their performance by two tiers, while nine states improved by one tier: Alabama, Arizona, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, and New York.
Another sixteen states fell one tier: Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin.
In addition, the report found:
- A majority of states had plans in place to expand healthcare and public health laboratory capabilities in an emergency.
- Most states are accredited in the areas of public health, emergency management or both.
- A large majority of Americans who receive their household water through a community water system had access to safe water.
- Only about half of the U.S. population is served by a comprehensive local public health system.
- Seasonal flu vaccination rates have risen significantly in recent years but are still lower than the goal set by Healthy People 2030.
- Just over half of workers used some kind of paid time-off in a one-month sample. The need for paid time off has become particularly apparent during the pandemic, as many workers became ill or needed to care for a sick family member.
- Only 28 percent of hospitals, on average, earned a top-quality patient safety grade during the year, down from 31 percent the year prior.
“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. This report’s findings can help federal and state officials identify gaps in public health preparedness and the steps needed to better protect lives and the economy during the next health emergency,” said J. Nadine Gracia, MSCE, President and CEO of Trust for America’s Health.
Notably, the report measured states’ performance during a year that presented intense demands on the nation’s public health system. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 saw record heat in many places, extensive flooding, wildfires throughout the Western U.S., a highly active hurricane season, and unusual and deadly December tornados in eight states. At the same time, hundreds of public health officials having experienced burn-out, threats to their safety, and attempts to limit their public health authorities have resigned, retired, or been fired.
To view the full report, click here.