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The main goal of this research is to assess the capacity/preparedness of small cities in Wisconsin (including Michigan and Minnesota) to respond to future public emergencies, in particular pandemics. There are two phases to the study.

Phase I (Prior Phase)
Phase I of the study involved a content analysis of Hazard Mitigation Plans (HMP), Community Health Improvement Plans (CHIP) and Emergency Operations Plans (EOP). In total 183 plans from 108 counties were analyzed. Some of the key findings were 1) Minnesota HMPs tend to contain mitigation strategies for public health emergencies, 2) Wisconsin HMPs did not frequently address infectious diseases like COVID 19, 3) only one EOP assessed a community’s risk to infectious diseases, 4) very few of the plans addressed the top Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) frequent health emergencies for their respective states, and 5) Minnesota had the highest number of health departments accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board. In summary, the major conclusion is there is a lack of mitigation strategies tailored specifically to (large-scale) pandemics.

Phase II (Current Phase)

In an increasingly globalizing world, the probability of large-scale pandemics occurring has increased. A person is more likely to now experience a COVID-19 like pandemic during their lifetime as infectious diseases now pose the highest risk impact of the next and future decades (Marani et al., 2021; World Economic Forum, 2021). Simply put, large-scale pandemics will become more likely. Early indications are that the COVID-19 crisis has been a stress test of the capacity of agencies to respond to a large-scale pandemic. Thus, there is a need to understand how public health issues are identified, the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic and what are the essential resources required to address future large-scale pandemics. Phase II of the research involves a qualitative analysis of data interviews conducted with public health and emergency management personnel.

Read or download the full Phase II Report.