The NHSS Aims to Improve Community Health Resilience
Note the NHSS Strategic Objective #1. “The NHSS aims to improve community health resilience—a community’s ability to use its
assets to strengthen public health and healthcare systems and to improve the community’s physical, behavioral, and social health
in order to withstand, adapt to, and recover from adversity. This objective focuses on encouraging social connectedness,
enhancing coordination of health and human services through partnerships, and building a culture of resilience”. The department
has a wonderful web site that provides how this objective is going to be addressed.
But a strategy is just that, a strategy. For a strategy to be effective it needs to be operationalized. Where is the practical
application to instill resilience and address a biological attack? One such program is HHS’ BioWatch which operates a network of
air-monitoring collectors at multiple locations around the country. As part of this structure BioWatch laboratories process and
analyze filter samples to determine the presence of select biological agents. Additionally, BioWatch operations are held to rigorous
quality standards to ensure confidence in laboratory results.
After reviewing the different kind of attack vectors, one must conclude that there is no perfect system to safeguard against
terrorist use of a chemical or biological agent. But by instilling a framework of resilience will reduce anxiety and greatly mitigate
the consequences of an actual attack. The ability to “withstand” and bounce back will be significantly increased through resilience.
Studying this issue will require resilience analysis at the micro, macro, physical and psychological levels.
Healthcare Ready recently conducted a survey of adults in an effort to better understand the disasters feared the most by
Americans and how prepared they are for disaster (Fetchko, 2019). Results show 32% of those surveyed stated their greatest fear
is natural disaster such as tornadoes, wildfires, and hurricanes (Fetchko, 2019). This is compared to the 5% of Americans most
fearful of an environmental disaster, the 6% of Americans fearing cyber-attacks the most, 6% also fearing a pandemic, and 14%
of Americans fearing terrorist attacks the most (Fetchko, 2019). These results show Americans are more fearful of natural disaster
more than cyber-attacks, environmental disasters, pandemics, and terrorism combined (Fetchko, 2019). Has the COVID-19
pandemic changed the way the world thinks about this issue, and will the world will be ready and resilient in the future?
COVID-19 has tested the world’s resilience, in the form of a deadly virous in a manner that has not been seen since the black
death. The diagram below from Harvard University captures the way the virus has been impactful.
The pandemic’s impact on the economy is visible everywhere. However, the impact on the human psyche is even more significant.
Stern (2021), writing for Harvard Medical School noted, “Since the pandemic began, mental health symptoms related to
depression, anxiety, suicide, and substance use are up dramatically. As many as 40% of US adults have reported struggling with
mental health or substance abuse during this time. This number represents a serious and deadly corner of the pandemic that has
not received enough attention”.
The Covid-19 pandemic led many governments in countries around the world to impose lockdowns that have lasted several weeks
to several months. Some examples of truly dramatic lockdowns included New Zealand, South Korea and within the United States
the state of Hawaii. When these lock-downs occurred the cognitive, emotional, physical/somatic, and social stress that was
impacted on children and adults in the world. Going to virtual learning essentially reduced comprehension and enhanced isolation.
Professions that could allow for remote work also saw a significant impact.
Oksanen et al. (2021) looked at elements of the Finnish working population during COVID as they worked in an isolated manner.
The result from stress to social media impact was significant. “Covariates included cyberbullying at work, social media usage,
personality, occupational status, and sociodemographic factors. Results showed that formal SMC increased and predicted higher
Before concluding this week, there was one other issue to consider as your review this week’s lessons. In the next few years,
more and more COVID variables of the virus will be found. Is the world ready for another wave of lockdowns, shortages and
isolation? Is there an impact of the very social science of our country and its’ government?
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