Virginia Earns National Recognition as One of the States Best Prepared for Public Health Emergencies
March 15, 2022
Two Years into the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Commonwealth is Again Ranked in the Top Tier of States in Trust for America’s Health – Ready or Not 2022 Annual Report on Public Health Emergency Preparedness
RICHMOND, VA – For several years running, Virginia has been recognized among the states best prepared to respond to public health emergencies. That trend continues in the latest report by Trust for America’s Health, Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters and Bioterrorism, which again places Virginia in the top tier of states. The report measures state levels of preparedness to respond to a wide range of health emergencies including infectious outbreaks, natural disasters, and manmade events.
Several recent Trust for America’s Health reports – which also ranked Virginia in the top tier of states in 2021 and 2020 – have been compiled during the ongoing response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In recent years, the Commonwealth has also been ranked among the top states in the National Health Security Preparedness Index (NHPSI) report that evaluates state readiness to respond to public health emergencies.
“This ongoing and repeated validation of Virginia’s public health emergency preparedness is a testament to the hard work of the thousands of employees of the Virginia Department of Health who day in and day out are focused on protecting the health and promoting the well-being of Virginians,” said Acting State Health Commissioner Colin M. Greene, MD, MPH. “Our ongoing attention to preparedness means that when we are faced with situations such as this pandemic or severe weather events or calculated attacks, we have systems, guidance, relationships and community partnerships in place to launch a comprehensive response.”
“Virginia’s hospitals are critical partners in the Commonwealth’s emergency preparedness infrastructure and essential providers of life-saving care to patients, including those whose well-being is compromised by public health emergencies,” said Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association (VHHA) President and CEO Sean T. Connaughton. “The pandemic has been a real-world stress test of our health care delivery system and its level of emergency readiness. While there are always opportunities to improve, it is gratifying to see that Virginia’s commitment to preparedness continues to place us among the top states in the nation.”
Earlier this month, Virginia marked the two-year anniversary (March 7, 2020) of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the Commonwealth. Since then, Virginia’s public health agencies, private health care providers such as hospitals and health systems, and many other stakeholders have risen to meet the challenge of a global pandemic. Virginia has recorded more than 1.65 million COVID-19 cases, resulting in more than 105,600 hospitalizations.
When vaccine doses became available, the Commonwealth mobilized public and private sector resources to rapidly get shots in arms – nearly 7 million Virginians have received at least one vaccine dose (hospitals have administered more than 2 million doses) and more than 72 percent of the eligible Virginia population is fully vaccinated. The Virginia Department of Health (VDH), local health districts, hospitals, nursing homes, pharmacies, and other partners have also supported efforts to respond to pandemic surges, outbreaks, and other evolving circumstances through testing, treatment, vaccination, telehealth consultations, and other strategic approaches.
The Ready or Not 2022: Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report examines a variety of factors to determine ratings including the level of preparedness to respond to wide-ranging health emergencies and provide public health services such as disease surveillance, seasonal flu vaccination, safe water, and expanded health care services in those situations. The report is also intended to serve as a tool to provide policymakers with data that can be used to support improvements and investments in state emergency readiness.
Unvaccinated individuals remain at the highest risk of severe illness and hospitalization due to COVID-19. This population remains VDH’s top priority. Everyone 5 years or older is eligible to be vaccinated. To find free vaccines near you, visit vaccinate.virginia.gov or call 877-VAX-IN-VA (877-829-4682, TTY users call 7-1-1). Assistance is available in English, Spanish, and more than 100 other languages.
About VDH: The mission of the Virginia Department of Health is to protect the health and promote the well-being of all people in Virginia. VDH Central Offices and a network of 35 Local Health Districts serve Virginia communities. Learn more at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/. Connect with VDH through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
About VHHA: The Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association is an alliance of 110 hospitals and 25 health delivery systems that develops and advocates for sound health care policy in the Commonwealth. Its mission is to achieve excellence in both health care and health to make Virginia the healthiest state in the nation. Its vision is through collaboration with members and stakeholders, to ensure the sustainability of Virginia health care system, transform the delivery of care to promote lower costs and high value across the continuum of care, and to improve health for all Virginians. Connect with VHHA through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and Instagram.
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