RealNews

Bioterrorism Preparedness Is Criticized

States are only modestly better prepared to handle bioterrorism or other public health emergencies than they were in 2001 — partly because local budget cuts may be countering a nearly $2 billion infusion of federal tax dollars, a new report shows. Thirty-two states have cut their own spending on public health even as Congress sent massive federal aid to shore up the long-crumbling systems, the report found. Yet the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention does no tracking to ensure that states are using the federal money to supplement, not supplant, their own public health spending, said the nonprofit Trust for America’s Health, which released the report Thursday. In many states, the federal grants themselves have been caught up in red tape that limits how much has reached local authorities who need them for such things as hiring staff, the report said. One result: By the government’s own measure, only Florida and Illinois are fully prepared to distribute and administer vaccinations and antidotes shipped from the nation’s emergency stockpile in event of a bioterrorist attack. Full Story

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