In the analyzed state of Florida, natural disasters, Zika Virus and crime have been noted as some of the most important epidemiological and surveillance issues. This report attempts to address these problems. With the help of objectives of the Healthy People 2020 initiative (ODPHP, 2016), the ways of managing these community problems are proposed.
Natural Disasters in Florida
The Sunshine state has been exposed to various natural disasters over the past years. Some of the most recent natural disasters include Hurricane Dennis and Hurricane Wilma in 2005, the Central Tornadoes of 2007 and a number of floods and tropical storms over the years. Since all of them are naturally occurring disasters that humans have little control over, the best interventions include being aware of the topographical and meteorological characteristics of the local area. Residents should possess clear information about the distribution of these disasters in terms of timing and the most affected areas. Additionally, the state should conduct a survey that will enable the locals to know the level of exposure of their houses in order to ensure their withstanding of the harsh climatic conditions.
For every person living in Florida, Tallahassee (zip code 32301- where I conducted my windshield survey), the following contacts should be very important: The local TV station, local radio station, county law enforcement authorities, hospitals, local utilities, Local American Red Cross, insurance companies, and the county public safety/fire department. Injuries occurring as a result of natural disasters should be addressed in accordance with the Healthy People 2020 indicators (ODPHP, 2016). Quick action means better healthcare for the people of Florida. An adequate public health infrastructure is important in every county as it provides emergency services during natural disasters. Efficient and well-trained emergency health professionals and land surveyors are also needed in such cases.
Residents should also be encouraged to learn and understand weather forecasting reports. Knowing the forecast reports helps the residents to make plans. Through effective reporting, the state can coordinate its residents and offer alternative residence or shelter during the time of the natural disaster. This approach will reduce the number of casualties, since most residents are caught up in crises because of ignorance or lack of adequate information. Additionally, the state should liaise with various construction industry stakeholders to ensure that the buildings can support the volatile weather in Florida (Mileti, 1999).
Recently there was an initiative by the Florida Division of Emergency Management to develop AlertFlorida, a landmark communication platform aimed at sending alert notifications and messages to the residents. It is a step towards the right direction. This initiative is currently being implemented by Everbridge (FDEM, 2016). It will allow local residents, businesses as well as visitors to access critical emergency information regarding drastic weather changes and meteorological reports. This decision will ensure a more prepared and focused decision-making process. Florida Department of Emergency Management (FDEM) Director Bryan W. Koon feels that it is a top priority to maintain the safety of the citizens of Florida. He says that “Everbridge’s selection as AlertFlorida vendor is an enormous achievement to provision State’s Emergency Administrators with a homogenous system to link critical crisis information to every tenant, commercial and guest in Florida” (FDEM, 2016). The system also provides automated notifications regarding tornadoes, floods and other important weather issues with the help of the National Weather Service. If it is implemented throughout the state, people will have better disaster preparedness behavior.
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As the world is trying to adjust to the possibility of another global epidemic of the Zika Virus, American stakeholders are busy trying to ensure that this disease does not become a continental crisis. According to Jon Cohen from the Science magazine, there is sufficient evidence that the virus might spread into the mainland America (Gourinat, O’Connor, Calvez, Goarant, & Dupont-Rouzeyrol, 2015). However, he disputes the fact that the problem will develop into a continental disaster, arguing that proper measures and adequate cooperation with the right stakeholders, including the media, will help solve the issue (Gourinat et al., 2015). One of the states that faces a real danger in dealing with this communicable disease is Florida. Due to the high number of global tourists, especially in the summer, there is a huge possibility that a number of cases might spike (Gourinat et al., 2015).
So far, 503 cases of the Zika Virus have been reported in the USA, with Florida recording 103 of them (CDC, 2016). None of them was locally acquired. This outcome shows that the diseases associated with travelers do affect Florida. Florida’s politicians, especially the senators, have been on the forefront trying to make sure that the best safety measures are put in place to deal with this illness. Other cases have been reported in other US territories (CDC, 2016). So, it will not take long before the virus may become prevalent in the mainland.
Improved access to healthcare services, as promoted by the Healthy People 2020 plan, is one measure that will help the state contain this disease (ODPHP, 2016). Since most of reported the cases are associated with travelers, proper screening methods must be provided at the state entry points. Florida’s residents are supposed to be taught about how to diagnose themselves. In addition, public health campaigns will educate the local citizens about all possible modes of disease transmission. Zika Virus can be transmitted through a number of ways, including sexual intercourse, pregnancy and birth. Most people understand the first mode of contamination, with little or no information about other modes.
Early detection and treatment of the disease will help reduce the cases, according to the Healthy People 2020 plan (ODPHP, 2016). People should be advised to report such symptoms as fever, rashes, conjunctivitis and joint pains of unknown origin. One in every five people infected with this virus is symptomatic (CDC, 2016). Considering this information and the fact that the initial presentation of the disease is highly non-specific, a high index of suspicion should be employed to any new case of unknown fever, muscle pain, headache, rash and redness of the eyes. Pregnant women who have travelled to the Zika-endemic area should report any cases of fever accompanied by a headache, since the incubation period of the virus is unknown (CDC, 2016).
On the other hand, the healthcare systems should be adjusted to accommodate fast and reliable reaction to the reported cases. Healthcare practitioners, including nurses and doctors, should be updated about the statistics regarding the spreading of the disease. This data can help their judgment and diagnosis. Updating the hospital staff members about the state of affairs concerning the disease will also help to improve the communication between the specialists and patients. New information will guide diagnoses and emergency management. Such disparities as limited healthcare services, ineffective and costly management, and lack of adequate insurance cover should be eliminated. Preventive medication should also be provided to the patients (CDC, 2016). In addition, patients should be given a lot of intravenous fluids to stay hydrated. More importantly, diagnosed individuals should avoid taking aspirin until Dengue fever has been ruled out (CDC, 2016). Dengue fever is one of the differential diagnoses of the Zika Virus infection. Taking aspirin until the possibility Dengue fever has been eliminated might cause bleeding (CDC, 2016).
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Crime in Florida
Due to the diversity of cultures and the large population of the state, crime has always been a major concern among the locals. The wide variety of visitors who come to Florida every year makes it an attractive place for such criminal activities as petty theft, money laundering, drug-related crimes as well as simple burglary or robbery. The culprits thrive on the ignorance of the visitors. This situation poses great danger to the development of the state, especially in the tourism sector. Tourists need to feel safe, and appropriate security measures will motivate more tourists to visit the state. One cannot underestimate the revenue realized from tourism activities, as Florida boasts of its hospitality industry, which forms an important part of the economic backbone of the state.
Collective responsibility and appropriate policies are some of the ways of improving security in the state. Through community policing, residents can coordinate and report suspicious activities in the neighborhoods. It is also necessary to understand that tourists have their personal intentions for traveling to the state. Some of them might even be conducting illegal business. With the help of effective community policing, such activities can be noted and reported in a timely manner.
Another issue that affects crime prevalence in the state is substance abuse. According to Healthy People 2020, 95% of substance abusers are unaware of their behavior (ODPHP, 2016). A large number of these people find it difficult to seek medical intervention. Substance abuse has a wide array of effects, including health-related and psychological problems. Most youngsters who abuse substances end up involving themselves in unlawful activities, mostly crime and prostitution (Schonfeld et al., 2010). The fact that the state is an entry point to the country makes it a place of distribution and sale of various narcotic substances. The abuse of prescription drugs has also been on the rise (Schonfeld et al., 2010). This behavior has resulted in an improved market value of some prescription drugs sold in the black market. Since these substances are expensive and highly addictive, the victims get involved in quick money-making schemes, most of which are criminal (Schonfeld et al., 2010).
According to the Healthy People 2020 (ODPHP, 2016), the main objectives of fighting substance abuse in the state include reducing the number of substance abusers, especially teenagers, increasing the number of youngsters who disapprove of substance abuse, educating the youth of the dangers of substance abuse, and ensuring that those in the recovery phase can access decent healthcare services. Alcohol screening and counseling should be provided to ensure that the cases of alcohol intoxication are reduced. Work-site based interventions, including the bodies that monitor and guide possible and suspected substance abusers, should be at work. Law enforcement agencies should also be helping to control drug-related occurrences. The maintenance of integrity at work and emphasis on accountability are some of the ways the law enforcement agencies can help to curb substance abuse. Some people believe that the authorities are also part of the group that encourages substance abuse by conducting and controlling the situation ineffectively. These views have to be addressed and eliminated.
All things considered, natural disasters, Zika Virus and crime in Florida have been addressed by the Healthy People 2020 initiative (ODPHP, 2016). The program proposes clear statistical data about occurrences and offers measures to prevent them from occurring in the future. It may be concluded that the Healthy People 2020 initiative (ODPHP, 2016) has been an effective way of addressing natural disasters, Zika Virus and crime in Florida.