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January 02, 2012

Forbes: Pittsburgh on Worst 10 Bio-Terror Readiness List

Pittsburgh has made another Cities Ranked list, but this time we're in the Bottom Ten, according to Kristen Doerschner's article in the Beaver County Times, "Local officials dispute report on terrorist attack preparedness".

The federal government's Dept of Health and Human Services (HHS) runs the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), and CDC runs the Cities Readiness Initiative. The CDC's City Readiness Initiative has been rating metropolitan areas (SMAs) on their preparation to respond to a large-scale bioterrorist event by dispensing antibiotics to the entire population of an identified MSA with 48 hours.

On December 5 2011, Forbes ran an article, "America's Most And Least Disaster-Ready Cities". The lines that grabbed my scan were these:

Here are the bottom eight MSA's in the Forbes report:
Charleston, WV
Little Rock, AR
Hartford, CT
Portland, ME
Pittsburgh, PA
Fresno, CA
Birmingham, AL
Albuquerque NM (worst)

There is some room for quibbling with the Forbes' methodology, as suggested by Kristen Doerschner's headline, "Local officials dispute report on terrorist attack preparedness".

Doerschner went to lengths to identify that the Forbes' methodology took the CRI scores from the last three evaluations and averaged them. In that light, the results don't indicate this year's preparation as much as the MSA's overall preparation, relative to the other cities, over the last several years.

That's the gripe of the local officials, who say the three-year average doesn't fully recognize their improvements.

From the DHHS/CDC/CRI website, here are the actual scores for our MSA:

What I get out of those numbers is that in 2007-2008 the region was unprepared. Since then, Allegheny County has done very, very well; the other counties have improved but not too much.

I think that's newsworthy: Over the last few years, this region has been been relatively unprepared for a bioterrorist attack; since then, Allegheny County is doing much better, and the rest of the region is doing somewhat better.

Beaver County Times Scoops Post Gazette


It's startling that there's no coverage of this in the Post-Gazette. Online searching in both the P-G website, and on Google for the P-G, returns: Nothing. Dead Air, Crickets, Nada, Zip, Zilch, Bupkis, Zero.

Shouldn't this be kind of a big deal for the Post-Gazette? Allegheny County is going to be surrounded on all its borders by bioweapon'd exurb Zombies?

Kudos, compliments, and accolades to the Beaver County Times and reporter Kristen Doerschner.

At the risk of being strident, I think that bioterrorism don't really care about the distinct autonomies of Blawnox and and Bellview and Beaver Falls etc, and the CDC numbers suggest we still haven't come to terms with regionalism (the RAD not withstanding).

Finally, to the Starve-The-Beast folks who would suggest that the Constitution doesn't explicitly provide for federal ratings of local bioterrorism readiness and so we should close that shop, I would say: Really? How else would you know about this?


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