62ºF

Funding largest hurdle for city's disaster preparedness, Metro Health says

Texas ranks on par with national average on preparedness, annual report says

SAN ANTONIO – Texas as a whole scored a 6.7 out of 10 in an annual report on natural disaster preparedness conducted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. That puts the state on par with the national average in the foundation's National Health Security Preparedness Index.

The reports takes into account things like flu vaccinations, the number of hospitals, and infrastructure when analyzing preparedness.

"(We consider) things like making sure we have the laboratory capacities to understand and respond to emerging infectious diseases and have the kind of coordination and monitoring preparedness drills that make you ready to respond to a range of disasters," said Alonzo Plough of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Texas' score has improved 3.6 percent since the foundation began tracking the index three years ago.

Click here for a full breakdown of Texas' score.

Dr. Vincent Nathan, the interim director of San Antonio's Metropolitan Health District, said funding is often the biggest factor in the city's preparedness. He said the government will often insist on taking money from one emergency and putting it toward another.

"Local health departments are really against that option," Nathan said. "If we reduce any of our public health preparedness funding, that impacts our laboratory capabilities, our surveillance activities and people."

He said the Zika virus is one of the city's current concerns. Four cases have been confirmed in San Antonio, but all of the individuals contracted the virus while out of the country. Metro Health is currently investigating 17 other cases for potential infection.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved blood testing for the Zika virus. Nathan said Metro Health is hoping to start that process next month.

Click here to read more about the Zika virus in Bexar County.