Study: Iowa moves to top tier for emergency preparedness

A report that ranks the states on how prepared they are for emergencies now places Iowa in the highest tier of best-prepared state, up from the middle tier in 2019. Rhea Farberman, spokeswoman for Trust for America’s Health, says Iowa is doing very well in the ten main categories, including things like infection control, vaccination rates, access to safe water and public health funding. She notes 60-percent of Iowans who work have access to paid leave.

“When someone has access to paid time off, be that personal time, vacation time or sick time, they tend to stay home when they’re sick and that helps control the spread of infectious disease,” Farberman says. “When someone does not have access to paid time off, they tend to go to work when they’re sick, and that spreads infectious disease.” One category where Iowa lagged behind was in the percentage of hospitals that are part of a health care coalition. About 80-percent of Iowa’s hospitals have such alliances, while the national average is 89-percent. Farberman says those compacts are vital as resources are often taxed during an emergency, whether it’s a disease outbreak or a weather-related disaster.

“They might need help from a neighboring county or a neighboring state,” Farberman says. “They might need more doctors or more nurses or more epidemiologists. Participating in these compacts and coalitions allows one jurisdiction to borrow medical personnel from another jurisdiction so the community needs are met during an emergency.” There is growing global concern over the spread of coronavirus and officials from the Iowa Department of Public Health are already working to educate the public about the facts and the risks.

“Coronavirus is just the latest example of why these indicators are important, why measuring preparedness is important, and why a standing, ready public health infrastructure is so important,” she says. Iowa joins 24 other states in the high performance tier. There are 12 states in the middle tier and 13 in the low tier. See the full report, “Ready or Not: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism,” at the website:

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