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State Gets High Marks for Emergency Health Preparedness

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The seventh annual Ready or Not? Protecting the Public’s Health from Diseases, Disasters, and Bioterrorism report, released today by the Trust for America’s Health (TFAH) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), found that the H1N1 flu outbreak has exposed serious underlying gaps in the nation’s ability to respond to public health emergencies and that the economic crisis is straining an already fragile public health system.

California achieved 8 out of 10 key indicators of public health emergency preparedness. Overall, the report found that 20 states scored six or less out of 10 key indicators of public health emergency preparedness. Nearly two-thirds of states scored seven or less. Seven states tied for the highest score of nine out of 10: Arkansas, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, and Vermont. Montana had the lowest score at three out of 10. The preparedness indicators are developed in consultation with leading public health experts based on data from publicly available sources or information provided by public officials.

“The H1N1 outbreak has vividly revealed existing gaps in public health emergency preparedness,” said Richard Hamburg, Deputy Director of TFAH. “The Ready or Not? report shows that a band-aid approach to public health is inadequate. As the second wave of H1N1 starts to dissipate, it doesn’t mean we can let down our defenses. In fact, it’s time to double down and provide a sustained investment in the underlying infrastructure, so we will be prepared for the next emergency and the one after that.”

Overall, the report found that the investments made in pandemic and public health preparedness over the past several years dramatically improved U.S. readiness for the H1N1 outbreak. But it also found that decades of chronic underfunding meant that many core systems were not at-the-ready. Some key infrastructure concerns were a lack of real-time coordinated disease surveillance and laboratory testing, outdated vaccine production capabilities, limited hospital surge capacity, and a shrinking public health workforce. In addition, the report found that more than half of states experienced cuts to their public health funding and federal preparedness funds have been cut by 27 percent since fiscal year (FY) 2005, which puts improvements that have been made since the September 11, 2001 tragedies at risk.

“State and local health departments around the country are being asked to do more with less during the H1N1 outbreak as budgets continue to be stretched beyond their limits,” said Michelle Larkin, J.D., Public Health Team Director and Senior Program Officer at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “Public health provides essential prevention and preparedness services that help us lead healthier lives -- without sustained and stable funding, Americans will continue to be needlessly at risk from the next public health threat.”

The report also offers a series of recommendations for improving preparedness, including:

  • Ensure Stable and Sufficient Funding. The 27 percent cut to federal support for public health preparedness since FY 2005 must be restored, and funding must be stabilized at a sufficient level to support core activities and emergency planning. Increased funding must also be provided to modernize flu vaccine production, improve vaccine and antiviral research and development, and fully support the Hospital Preparedness Program.
  • Conduct an H1N1 After-Action Report and Update Preparedness Plans with Lessons Learned. Strengths and weaknesses of the H1N1 response should be evaluated and used to revise and strengthen federal, state, and local preparedness planning, including assessing what additional resources are needed to be sufficiently prepared. Identified gaps in core systems, including communications, surveillance, and laboratories much be addressed. In addition, continued surge capacity concerns, including establishing crisis standards of care, must be addressed.
  • Increase Accountability and Transparency. Federal and state health departments should regularly make updates on progress made on benchmarks and deliverables identified in the Pandemic and All Hazards Preparedness Act available to the public so they can see how tax dollars are being used and how well protected their communities are from health threats.
  • Improve Community Preparedness. Additional measures must be taken to reach out quickly and effectively to high-risk populations, including strengthening culturally competent communications around the safety of vaccines. Health disparities among low-income and racial/ethnic minorities, who are often at higher risk during emergencies, must also be addressed.

Score Summary:

A full list of all of the indicators and scores and the full report are available on TFAH’s web site at www.healthyamericans.org and RWJF’s Web site at www.rwjf.org. For the state-by-state scoring, states received one point for achieving an indicator or zero points if they did not achieve the indicator. Zero is the lowest possible overall score, 10 is the highest. The data for the indicators are from publicly available sources or were provided from public officials.

9 out of 10: Arkansas, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Vermont

8 out of 10: Alabama, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Wisconsin

7 out of 10: Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, South Dakota, Tennessee, Virginia

6 out of 10: Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kansas, Louisiana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Utah, West Virginia, Wyoming

5 out of 10: Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, Washington

3 out of 10: Montana

Trust for America’s Health is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to saving lives by protecting the health of every community and working to make disease prevention a national priority. www.healthyamericans.org

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation’s largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to improving the health and health care of all Americans, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, meaningful and timely change. For more than 35 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment, and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves. Helping Americans lead healthier lives and get the care they need—the Foundation expects to make a difference in our lifetime. For more information, visit www.rwjf.org.

 

 

RPU Begins 2010 With Free Cost-Cutting Business Programs

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Riverside Public Utilities (RPU) is beginning the new year with two free cost-saving, energy-efficient programs for qualified Riverside business customers: the Programmable Thermostat Direct Installation Program and the VendingMiser® Direct Installation Program.

The programmable thermostats provide businesses a way to cut facility heating and cooling costs by programming different settings for weekdays and weekends; setting multiple daily settings; and customizing heating and cooling only for the hours needed. RPU will arrange for the installation of more than 2,000 thermostats, which saves about 4.7 million kilowatt-hours or approximately $610,000 annually.

Vending machines and glass door coolers have long been a source of energy waste.

VendingMiser® and CoolerMiser® system sensors monitor the ambient temperature and foot traffic in the immediate area and adjusts power inside to keep the product cool without wasting energy. Even the advertising lights on vending machines will be lowered when customers are not nearby.

Businesses will see an immediate 46 percent drop in energy used by vending machines or coolers. The annual estimated savings to customers and RPU is about 3.2 million kwh or a savings of $450,000.

RPU will install both the thermostats and the vending machine units without cost to the customer.

“We realize many of our business customers could use some cost-saving measures for 2010,” said RPU General Manager David Wright. “By directly installing these units, not only do our customers save money, but the city becomes more energy-efficient and greener.”

RPU business customers can call 951.826.5485 for more information about this and other RPU energy-saving programs.

Horton: Gasoline Demand Up 1% in 3rd Quarter, Diesel Down 10.6%

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Jerome E. Horton, Vice Chairman of the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), today released gasoline and diesel consumption figures for September and total figures for the third quarter of 2009.

Gas consumption increased for the second consecutive quarter since early 2006.

In September 2009, gasoline demand rose 0.05 percent when Californians used 1.219 billion gallons of gasoline compared to just under 1.219 billion gallons the same month last year. The average California gasoline price at the pump in September was $3.17 per gallon compared to $3.84 in September 2008, a 17.4 percent decrease.

In the third quarter of 2009, gasoline consumption increased one percent when Californians used 3.772 billion gallons of gasoline compared to 3.736 billion gallons the third quarter last year.

Gasoline sold in September generated approximately $322 million in sales tax during that month, an estimated $23 million less than generated last year. September sales and use tax revenues from gasoline would have been about $59 million less had the state portion of the sales and use tax not increased by one percent on April 1, 2009.

Diesel fuel sold in California during September totaled 244 million gallons compared to September’s last year total of 254 million gallons, which is a decline of 3.9 percent. California diesel prices were $2.84 per gallon in September 2009 down 30.6 percent compared to September 2008 when the average diesel price was $4.09 per gallon.

Diesel consumption in California declined 10.6 percent in the third quarter of 2009 when Californians used a total of just over 654 million gallons of diesel compared to the third quarter of 2008 total of 732 million gallons. This decline is similar to those seen since early 2008. Diesel consumption generally follows economic activity and is especially closely related to construction and transportation of goods. These sectors were particularly hard hit during the recession, and have yet to start to increase.

Core’s Annual Dinner Will Be Star-Studded Gala

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On Monday, January 18th 2010, the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE), America’s third oldest and largest civil rights organization, will host its 25th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Ambassadorial Reception and Awards Dinner at the Sheraton New York Hotel and Towers, 52nd Street at Seventh Avenue in Manhattan. Reception is at 6:30 p.m., dinner and awards begin at 7:30 p.m. Black Tie or National Dress.

The dinner, which is the largest annual celebration in honor of the King Holiday, attracts many local and national politicians as well as celebrities from Hollywood, the music industry and the sports world. Many embassies will send their ambassadors and consuls general to attend as official representatives.

Each year, special guests serve as Masters of Ceremony and as keynote speakers. Past MC’s have included talk radio host Sean Hannity, NY Post gossip queen Cindy Adams, comedian Alan King and actor Tony LoBianco. Keynote speakers have included First Lady Laura Bush and Mayor Rudy Giuliani.

Past CORE honorees have included Nobel Prize winner Elie Weisel, international women’s rights activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Actors Morgan Freeman and Charlton Heston, sports legends Muhammad Ali and Hank Aaron, music superstars Brandy, Janet Jackson and Usher, civil rights matriarch Rosa Parks and, posthumously, former CORE workers and civil rights heroes James Cheney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner.

The 2010 dinner promises to have one of the most dynamic lineups of attendees and honorees. Confirmed guests will be announced shortly. There will be a press conference during the dinner that will include all the hosts, special guests and honorees.

CHP to Begins Traffic Safety Program for Teens

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The California Highway Patrol will offer a free Start Smart traffic safety program for teenage drivers and their parents at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, January 9th at the Riverside Area CHP office.

The program aims to help future and newly-licensed teenage drivers learn the responsibilities that accompany the privilege of being a licensed driver.

The program is an education tool for parents and teens to reduce the number of teen injuries and deaths resulting from traffic collisions.

The program provides information on defensive driving, state traffic laws, dynamics of traffic collisions, tips on avoiding collisions and DUI awareness.

Classes are limited to the first 30 people. For more information or reservations, call the Riverside Area Office at (951) 637-8000.

Future Class Dates:

January 14, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30pm

January 19, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

February 11, 2010

(Thursday) - 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

February 13, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

March 13, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

March 18, 2010

(Thursday) –6:30 pm-8:30 pm

April 10, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

April 22, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

May 8, 2010

(Saturday) – 8 am-10 am

May 13, 2010

(Thursday) – 6:30 pm-8:30 pm

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