Virtually all U.S. states can quickly activate and staff emergency operations centers, receive and investigate urgent disease reports around the clock and quickly communicate with other laboratories, according to a federal report released on Tuesday.
But the 2009 H1N1 swine flu pandemic strained a system already weakened by staffing shortages and budget shortfalls, the report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cautioned.
While states are doing far better to prepare for big disasters, they need steady and ensured funding, the CDC said.
Today's report indicates that our nation is better prepared to respond to a public health emergency, Dr. Ali Khan, director of CDC's Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response, said in a statement.
We must foster improvements for rapid awareness, identification, and communication of health threats; measurable preparedness goals and response plans; and ongoing support for state and local public health.
The report finds nearly 90 percent of states and localities have the ability to activate and rapidly staff their emergency operations centers for drills or real incidents.
Nearly 90 percent of key laboratories could be reached seven days a week and nearly all passed proficiency tests for detecting biological agents.
The report is available here and was released at a meeting of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers.
The National Association of County and City Health Officials welcomed the report.
In May, the group reported that local health departments had reduced their workforces by 25,500 jobs, or 15 percent. These cumulative reductions in staff are compromising local health departments' ability to keep Americans safe and provide basic disease prevention and emergency preparedness services, NACCHO said in a statement.