Preparedness for public health emergencies focus of new study of all 50 states

April 26, 2022

Illinois, Iowa and Ohio are among 12 states nationwide whose public health preparedness for disaster and disease improved from 2020 to 2021, according to the nonprofit, nonpartisan Trust for America’s Health.

To evaluate each state’s public health system, the organization used 10 different indicators of preparedness. For example:Map of Midwestern states' standing in the Trust for America's Health 2022 "Ready or Not" report

• Does the state have plans in place to expand health care capacity, and can its public health laboratories accommodate a weeks-long surge in testing needs?

• What percentage of the state’s population is served by a comprehensive local public health system, one that is able to assess community health needs, develop evidence-based policies and ensure access to necessary services for all residents?

• Did the size of the state’s public health budget increase or decrease compared to the previous year?

• How well do hospitals perform on measures of patient safety, and is the state nationally accredited in the areas of public health and emergency management?

Using these and other indicators — such as access to a safe water supply, vaccination rates for the seasonal flu and participation in an interstate compact on nurse licensure — the Trust for America’s Health placed five Midwestern states in the “high tier of readiness” (see map).

The “Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism” study is released every year. In part, this year’s edition highlighted lessons from the COVID-19 pandemic. The Trust for America’s Health says those lessons include investing more in public health and addressing inequities that left some individuals at a heightened risk of death and serious illness.