Floridians At Risk As Officials Fail To Prep For Looming Dangers

State must bolster health readiness fast ahead of hurricane season on June 1 

By Christine Sexton – The News Service of Florida

May 9, 2019

As the 2019 hurricane season looms and as hepatitis A cases continue to soar in Florida, a report issued Wednesday shows that more work needs to be done to ensure the health and safety of residents against emerging infectious diseases, terrorism and extreme weather conditions.

Florida scored a 6.7 on the 2019 National Health Security Preparedness Index, putting it on par with the national average. [The official start of hurricane season is Saturday, June 1.]

The report, issued by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, analyzed 129 different measures for each state and the nation. The measures are spread across six broad categories and tallied for an overall score.

Glen Mays, a professor of health policy at the University of Kentucky who worked on the index, said the information is being shared to try to improve the nation’s ability to ensure the public health and safety of citizens during disasters:

“Given that as a country we are facing more of these emergency situations, natural disasters, man-made disasters and more disease outbreaks, so raising awareness about what each state can do and where the strengths are and also where the weaknesses are, we hope that can mobilize some people to take some action. That’s the major purpose. Because when it comes to disaster preparedness, it’s largely a voluntary effort. You’re trying to get organizations willing to work together to do their part. And this provides a way of showing where we are.”

The assessment was originally developed by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2013. The goal is to attain a composite score of 9, which would indicate a “strong health security level … ”

Florida lags the national average in half of the six categories. For example, Mays noted Florida’s lackluster performance in community planning and engagement, which involves developing and maintaining relationships among government agencies, community organizations and households.

Florida scored a 4.8 in the category, below the national average of 5.2.

Read more. Image: Cleverguy122, CC BY-SA 4.0

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