The United States is relatively well-prepared to manage a public health emergency, an index of health security and preparedness compiled by the finds.
Based on more than a hundred indicators in six categories — including incident and information management, health security surveillance, countermeasure management, environmental and occupational health, community planning and engagement, and healthcare delivery — the 2016 gave the U.S. a score of 6.7 overall on a ten-point scale, an improvement of 3.6 percent since the index was developed by the in 2013. At the same time, the (executive summary, 6 pages, PDF) found that such protections were unevenly distributed across states, with a "preparedness gap" of 36 percent between the highest- and lowest-scoring states. Indeed, while eighteen states along the Eastern seaboard and in the Upper Midwest and Southwest scored significantly higher than the national average, sixteen states, primarily in the Deep South and Mountain West regions, scored significantly lower.
The study also found that some states with low levels of preparedness are located in regions with elevated risks of disasters; that laboratory testing capabilities for the Zika virus have trended upward but are not universally available; and that testing capabilities for drinking water and fully compliant public drinking water systems have both trended downward.
"State and local public health agencies are on the front lines in responding to public health emergencies," said Stephen Redd, director of the CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response. "The index is a tool that can help us all see where investments since 2001 to build public health emergency response capacity have paid off and where more investment and work is needed."