Washington, D.C., Rates Low in Preparedness to Fight Diseases, Disaster and Bioterrorism; Va. Ranks Higher

Maryland and North Carolina have been rated among the states best prepared to protect the public from diseases, disaster and bioterrorism.

The two states are among five that scored the highest score of eight, out of 10, on key indicators of public health preparedness in an annual report prepared by the Trust for America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Georgia and New Jersey were rated among the worst, each receiving a score of four. While public health funding rose by 1.2% in Georgia, it declined by 1.3% in New Jersey. Similarly, all-hazards preparedness funding for New Jersey was down 1.4% to $25.6 million, according to a report in 24.7 Wall Street, whereas it was up 2.6% to $26.7 million in Georgia.

Each of New Hampshire, New York and Virginia scored seven while Connecticut and Massachusetts each scored six.

Washington, D.C., Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas received scores of five each.

The report found “significant progress toward improving public health preparedness over the past 10 years, particularly in core capabilities,” but also found “persistent gaps in the country's ability to respond to health emergencies, ranging from bioterrorist threats to serious disease outbreaks to extreme weather events.”

"Public health preparedness has improved leaps and bounds from where we were 10 years ago," said Paul Kuehnert, director of the Public Health Team at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. "But severe budget cuts at the federal, state and local levels threaten to undermine that progress. We must establish a baseline of ‘better safe than sorry' preparedness that should not be crossed."

The Ready or Not? report also made recommendations to address many of the major gaps in emergency health preparedness.

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