TFAH Releases 2019 State-by-State Emergency Preparedness Report

This week, the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) released its report “Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism,” which provides an annual snapshot of states’ public health and emergency response preparedness. This report, authored by TFAH since 2003, has documented significant progress in the nation’s level of emergency readiness, public health preparedness, and opportunities for improvement.

The report assesses top priority emergency preparedness and public health indicators and capabilities on a state-by-state basis, including incident management, cross-sector community collaboration, workforce resiliency and infection control, and health security surveillance. The report determines the following key findings:

  • A majority of states (31) have made preparations to expand public health and healthcare capabilities in an emergency, often through inter-state collaboration and compacts.
  • Most states are accredited in the areas of public health and emergency managements – many in both. These accreditations are one measure of a state’s capacity to effectively respond to health threats.
  • Seasonal influenza vaccination rates, already below 50 percent, fell last year. The influenza vaccination rate for Americans ages six months or older dropped from 47 percent in the 2016-17 season to 42 percent in the 2017-18 season.

It is important to note that these indicators do not necessarily reflect the effectiveness of states’ public health departments. Improvement in these priority areas often requires action from other agencies, elected officials, or the private sector.

The report discusses climate change and the increasing likelihood of extreme weather and natural disaster events, including wildfire risks, and its intersection with public health and emergency preparedness activities. TFAH details a series of actions for federal, state, and local officials, healthcare systems, academia, and the private and nongovernmental sectors to further protect the public’s health; top priority recommendations include:

  • Providing stable, dedicated, and sufficient funding for preparedness activities and a significant funding increase for core public health activities.
  • Establishing complementary emergency response fund to accelerate crisis responses.
  • Monitoring and addressing any potential challenges caused by the transition of the Strategic National Stockpile and significantly strengthening the “last mile” of distribution and dispensing.
  • Developing a multiyear strategic vision, and fully funding surveillance infrastructure, for fast, accurate outbreak detection at all levels of government.
  • Promoting heath equity in emergency preparedness planning, response, and recovery, including through the appointment of a chief equity or resilience officer.

The full TFAH report is available here.