Region gets mixed scores in disaster readiness

December 18, 2008

Virginia is one of just five states to receive a perfect score from a new study that ranks governments on their readiness for a major emergency or disaster.

The report released Tuesday by the nonprofit Trust For America's Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation says Virginia fulfills 10 of the 10 criteria the group says are necessary to keep states ready for emergencies like bioterrorism, disease outbreaks or natural disasters.

Meanwhile, Maryland tied for last among states nationwide in readiness for a health emergency, scoring a five out of 10.

The disparity between Virginia, Maryland and D.C. - which scored a seven - makes coordination important, says Dr. Jim Marks, director of the health group at the Robert Wood Foundation.

Dr. Jeff Levi, executive director of Trust for America's Health and the lead author of the study, says money is part of the reason Maryland received such a low score.

"The District and Maryland did cut their public health budgets in the last year," Levi says.

One area where Maryland and D.C. fell behind was "the capacity to identify at least 44 percent - which is the national average - of the causes of known food-borne outbreaks," Levi says.

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