How Prepared is Your State for Bioterror and Health Emergencies?

01/09/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011
  • Jeffrey Levi Associate professor of health policy, George Washington University; Executive Director, Trust for America's Health

Today, our organization, the Trust for America's Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) released our sixth annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public's Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report.

People often say 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina were 'wake up calls' to the country. But in the field of public health, we think of them more like snooze alarms. They get our attention and some changes are made, but then we end up drifting back into complacency.

Overall, the country has made significant progress over the year to better protect Americans from disease outbreaks, natural disasters, and bioterrorism is now at risk, due to budget cuts and the economic crisis. In addition, the report concludes that major gaps remain in many critical areas of preparedness, including surge capacity, rapid disease detection, and food safety.

The report contains state-by-state health preparedness scores based on 10 key indicators to assess health emergency preparedness capabilities. More than half of states and D.C. achieved a score of seven or less out of 10 key indicators. Louisiana, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Virginia, and Wisconsin scored the highest with 10 out of 10. Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, Montana, and Nebraska tied for the lowest score with five out of 10.

More information about how your state scores and about the report can be found on our web site

A five-minute video overview can also be seen at