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Factors associated with differences in initial pandemic preparedness and response: Findings from a nationwide survey in the United states

Posted on Aug. 12, 2021

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Using data from a national survey conducted in the United States during the Spring of 2020, the study investigates the differences between emergency managers, transportation planners, and others involved in disaster response regarding pandemic risk perceptions and protective actions. Approximately 92 percent of respondents reported implementing voluntary actions, with 35 percent reporting quarantine and 37 percent reporting isolation actions. Respondent attributes and the agencies and communities they work in are categorized in terms of personal, disciplinary, or professional backgrounds, including urban versus rural locations, coastal versus non-coastal communities, and other factors. Three different dependent variables are modeled, including: 1) risk tolerance, 2) level of preparedness (including support for training), and 3) implementation of protective measures for social distancing, quarantine, and isolation to ascertain the influences of personal, professional, and locational characteristics. A risk tolerance score is used by asking, “What percentage of the population would need to be sick to execute voluntary and non-voluntary actions?” Poisson regression and correspondence analysis are used to identify patterns, associations, and clustering of respondent characteristics to show the relationships between risk perceptions, preparedness, and professional backgrounds. In addition to determining which places and people are more inclined to support protective actions against the pandemic, this analysis also demonstrates the intersections and mutual interests across public health, transportation, and emergency management. Overall, a low level of preparedness for the pandemic was found, with 70 percent of the respondents supporting additional training.

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