States that routinely deal with hurricanes and other natural disasters are better prepared than others to handle bioterrorism, but overall the nation is struggling to develop plans for public health emergencies, reports the Associated Press. Florida and North Carolina, both familiar with evacuating residents and distributing emergency aid, received top rankings in a study by the private Trust for America’s Health. Alaska and Massachusetts got the lowest ratings, despite infusions of federal aid designed to improve emergency responsiveness.
Overall, the report found that states are slowly becoming better prepared to handle bioterrorism, but most still lack statewide response plans. Federal planning money is declining. Meanwhile, the Washington Post noted in an editorial today that the person responsible for the anthrax attacks in October 2001 is still on the loose. The paper said, “The anthrax crisis…has receded from public focus. But it shouldn’t. Anthrax spores, used as weapons of mass destruction, were successfully unleashed with deadly consequences, and the killings remain unsolved. As a nation, we lose focus on that chilling fact at our peril.”