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When Disaster Strikes, How Ready Is Nevada?

Workers clean up during a bird flu outbreak in 2014.
Associated Press

Workers clean up during a bird flu outbreak in 2014.

If an earthquake were to strike, or a large disease outbreak would occur, how ready would Nevada be to take on such a disaster? 

According to new data, Nevada -- and the entire Mountain West region -- lags behind the rest of the country when it comes to managing community health emergencies. 

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation released the results of the 2018 National Health Security Preparedness index, which found Nevada scored 6.4 on a 10-point scale for preparedness, compared to 7.1 for the United States as a whole. 

The Index analyzes 140 measures—such as the percentage of bridges that are in good or fair condition, the number of pediatricians, and flu vaccination rates—to calculate a composite score that provides the most comprehensive picture of health security available.

The scores indicate the ability to protect the health security of Americans from incidents like newly emerging infectious diseases, growing antibiotic resistance, terrorism and extreme weather conditions.  

Anna Goodman Hoover from the University of Kentucky was part of the research team that led the analysis.

“In Nevada, what we have really seen are underperformance in two key areas… one is health care delivery and those are the kinds of protection that we need to ensure access to high-quality medical services across the continuum of care,” she said, “What I think is really interesting and I think Nevada is perhaps challenged in but so are many, many states across the country is mental and behavioral health care.”

She said Nevada is not only below the average but actually declining. She said state officials and lawmakers need to look at the index and prioritize what needs to be addressed. 

“I think that is largely in Nevada’s hands in many ways because different states have different threat profiles," she said, "They have different risk profiles. They have different areas that they have to prioritize.”

For instance, Nevada might look at preparing for an extreme heat emergency or an emergency related to our tourism industry.

Goodman Hoover said Nevada and other states need to do a better job at adapting to the changing climate. Last year was the most expensive year for natural disasters. Costs for hurricane damage, flooding, tornados and other disasters topped $300 billion.

She said states need to do a lot of thinking about what climate change could mean to them and how to adapt.

“What threats do we potentially face in relation to these trends and where do we need to put our resources to make sure we’re prepared,” she said.

Goodman Hoover said we've spent too much time talking about what caused climate change instead of looking at ways to adapt.

Anna Goodman Hoover, assistant professor, Department of Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health, University of Kentucky



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Prior to taking on the role of Broadcast Operations Manager in January 2021, Rachel was the senior producer of KNPR's State of Nevada program for 6 years. She helped compile newscasts and provided coverage for and about the people of Southern Nevada, as well as major events such as the October 1 shooting on the Las Vegas strip, protests of racial injustice, elections and more. Rachel graduated with a bachelor's degree of journalism and mass communications from New Mexico State University.