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Federal Grants Bring New Cash to Local Emergency-Response Efforts

By Rachel Oswald

Global Security Newswire

Police officers practice subduing an individual playing the part of an anthrax victim as part of a bioterrorism drill in Tuscon, Ariz., in 2002. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is awarding $840 million in new grants to benefit state and local emergency-response programs. Police officers practice subduing an individual playing the part of an anthrax victim as part of a bioterrorism drill in Tuscon, Ariz., in 2002. The U.S. Health and Human Services Department is awarding $840 million in new grants to benefit state and local emergency-response programs. (Gary Williams/Getty Images)

State and local efforts to improve public-health responses to a potential unconventional attack on U.S. soil are getting another infusion of federal funding.

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced on Tuesday that it was awarding more than $840 million in fiscal 2014 grants to state and community public-health programs that could be called on in the event of a naturally occurring disease epidemic, or a biological, chemical or nuclear attack.

"Community and state preparedness is essential to the health security of all Americans," Nicole Lurie, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said in provided remarks. "Events in the last few years have demonstrated how critical it is for health systems across the country to be ready and able to respond quickly and effectively."

The grants are being dispersed through two different programs: the Public Health Emergency Preparedness initiative, which supports efforts by laboratories and researchers to contain disease outbreaks, and the Hospital Preparedness Program, which works to improve coordination among different medical centers for responding to possible large-scale emergencies.

The hospital-readiness effort is getting $228.5 million for the current fiscal year. In comparison, the initiative received $332 million in fiscal 2013 and $352 million in fiscal 2012, according to previous reporting. The Public Health Emergency Preparedness program is to receive nearly $612 million in fiscal 2014. That compares to $584 million in fiscal 2013 and $619 million in fiscal 2012.

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