Content analysis of state hazard mitigation plans and their ability to address pandemics
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Hazard mitigation plans address hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, landslides, tornados, flooding more explicitly than pandemics or other public health crises. This paper analyzes and identifies pandemic-related mitigation strategies in state-level hazard mitigation plans across the United States. This study identifies common and uncommon strategies that could be included in plan updates such as: use of personal protective equipment (PPE), self-isolation/quarantine, hygiene, restricted gatherings, vaccination, vulnerability assessment, economic consequences analysis, acknowledging the need to address pandemics, and referring Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. The 54 state-level plans are compared based on their inclusion of the nine strategies. Findings show that vaccination, self-isolation/ quarantine, and vulnerability assessment are the strategies most listed in plans. Additional concerns made evident by the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, such as contact tracing, environmental impact, and public services, were limited across the plans. It was concluded that long-term mitigation strategies for reducing the risk and speed of spread such as identifying strategic locations for testing, vaccination, and quarantine should be devised and implemented. Pandemics should be included as a distinct class of hazards while formulating state hazard mitigation plans. Strategies for addressing the impact of long working hours on the mental health of healthcare workers should be explored. Economic and psychological impact of unavailability of essential public services, such as transport and groceries, should be investigated and strategies should be formulated in the mitigation plans accordingly.