Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — North Carolina is among states rated as high performers in public health emergency preparedness measures by a nonpartisan, nonprofit that advocates for optimal health for people and communities through prevention of illness and injuries.

The Trust for America’s Health report “Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism 2020,” which was released February 5, groups North Carolina among 25 states that received a rank of “high” while the remaining states are nearly evenly split between medium and low rankings. North Carolina outperformed southern neighbors Arkansas, Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

The report notes that Hurricane Dorian’s heavy rains and wind brought significant flood damage to North Carolina last summer and stranded 940 residents of Ocracoke, where over wash raised concerns about whether the island would be able to rebuild. Climate-change experts, the report states, call Ocracoke’s experience a bellwether for what coastal communities along the eastern seaboard may experience in future storms.

Among measures used as indicators of states’ performance were:

♦ Adoption of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses from other states to provide care during emergencies;
Accreditation by the Emergency Management Accreditation Program;
Flu vaccine rate;
Hospital patient safety ratings; and
State health laboratory plans for a six- to eight-week surge in testing capacity.

North Carolina scored high in all those areas.

The report notes that public health emergencies of the past year — outbreaks of measles, hepatitis A and other vaccine preventable diseases, record heat, foodborne illness, devastating hurricanes, the mysterious lung disease linked to vaping, wildfires and months of cascading flooding along the Missouri, Mississippi and the Arkansas rivers — all reinforce the need for every jurisdiction to be vigilant about preparing for emergencies in order to safeguard the public’s health.


The full report can be accessed HERE