The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated in stark terms that underinvestment in public health emergency preparedness can lead to the loss of hundreds of thousands of lives and wreak havoc on an economy, an annual report from Trust for America's Health finds. The report, Ready or Not 2021: Protecting the Public's Health Against Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism (80 pages, PDF), measured the 2020 performance of states according to ten key indicators of emergency preparedness — including adoption of the Nurse Licensure Compact, the percentage of hospitals participating in a healthcare coalition(s), the size of a state's public health budget, and their plans for meeting a surge in demand for COVID testing. According to the report, the District of Columbia and twenty states — including Colorado, Georgia, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Washington — demonstrated high levels of preparedness, while fifteen states — including California, Florida, Michigan, New Jersey, and Texas — demonstrated medium levels of preparedness and the remaining fifteen — including Arizona, Hawai'i, New York, Ohio, and South Carolina — demonstrated low levels of preparedness. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, with additional support from the California Endowment, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, and Kresge Foundation, the report calls for an increase in stable funding focused on ensuring domestic and global public health security, as well as greater efforts to build resilient communities, prepare for environmental threats and extreme weather, and promote health equity.
(Image credit: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases)