The federal government will grade how well states are prepared for bioterrorism and other health emergencies, the Associated Press reports. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention hopes to test a scoring system in January and to have evaluations underway next summer.
Preparation levels may differ dramatically depending on the threat. Ten cases of smallpox in New York would require a different response from 10 cases scattered across the nation. For more than a year, the CDC has told states to be prepared to vaccinate all residents against smallpox within 10 days if a terrorist attack unleashed the deadly virus. The CDC says that a single case of smallpox anywhere in the world would require opening mass-vaccination clinics here.
States are supposed to develop programs that include ways to catch early warning signs of disease, track outbreaks, train doctors, and communicate with the public. The CDC will hire an independent agency to conduct the evaluations, which in part will account for how states have spent about $3 billion in federal funds for preparedness.