The collision of hurricane season and the coronavirus has arrived
The coronavirus continues to rage in the states most vulnerable to what is already an active hurricane season.
Driving the news: Hurricane Hanna hit the Texas coast last weekend, testing the response effort in a state that hasn't been able to get its outbreak under control.
Why it matters: Encouraging people to travel to other cities or states to stay with family, or housing them in crowded gymnasiums and convention centers, isn't exactly in line with pandemic mitigation practices.
- And in states frequently slammed by hurricanes — like Texas, Florida and Louisiana — coronavirus cases are skyrocketing.
- Many people who need shelters are likely to also be more vulnerable to severe infections.
- "The last thing you want to do is take people from a dangerous situation involving a hurricane and move them into a dangerous situation involving COVID," Emily Landon, an infectious diseases specialist at University of Chicago Medicine, told NPR.
Fortunately, not many people sought shelter in Corpus Christi, where the Category 1 storm made landfall Saturday afternoon.
- “Having two events tied together, it is just a huge challenge,” Annette Rodriguez, the Nueces County public health director, told the NYT. “It was definitely a good trial run.”
What's next: The American Red Cross, under the supervision of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, manages many hurricane shelters, and intends to abide by social distancing standards.
- But that could cut shelter capacity by as much as 60%, NPR reports.
- FEMA has encouraged emergency managers to consider housing people in empty hotels as an alternative, but many emergency managers aren't sure how to do this, per NPR.