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A decade after envelopes containing anthrax terrorized the nation and alerted officials to the need to protect against bioterrorism, significant gaps remain in the nation’s capacity to respond to a bioterrorism attack, according to an analysis released Thursday.
Thirty-three states have cut funding for public health, with 18 of those states cutting funding for two years in a row. Local public health departments have cut about 29,000 jobs, representing 19 percent of their public health workforce. Nationally, federal support for public health preparedness has been cut by 37 percent.
“Currently, there is an additional new threat to preparedness — the current economic climate and budget cuts at the federal, state and local level mean that the progress made over the past decade could be lost,” the 92-page report concludes. “Until public health emergency preparedness receives sufficient and sustained funding, Americans will continue to be needlessly at risk for a range of public health threats.”
Among the areas of concern are:
-The United States has 50,000 fewer public health workers than it did 20 years ago and one-third of public health workers will be eligible to retire within five years.
-The ability of the medical system for care for a “massive influx of patients remains one of the most serious challenges for emergency preparedness.”
-The nation still lacks an “integrated, national approach” to monitoring disease outbreaks, “which would dramatically improve response capabilities ranging from a bioterrorism attack to catastrophic disasters to contamination of the food supply.”
-The capacity to produce tests, antiviral medication and vaccines remains outdated.
People wouldn’t travel as much, spend as much, with exception of everyone running to the stores to stock up so they can hunker down…a bone headed move if there ever was one, especially in a Bio scenario.