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President Biden speaking at the White House on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

The "most important" step Americans should take to prepare for peak hurricane season is to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in case they have to evacuate, the White House said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The statement followed President Biden's meeting on hurricane preparedness with senior FEMA officials and others, who advised him of the measure — hours before Tropical Storm Fred formed near Puerto Rico. Florida is in the path of the storm, which could possibly intensify into a hurricane.

Between the lines: The Federal Emergency Management Agency told Axios' Jonathan Swan last year the agency had included the coronavirus crisis in its planning document, titled "COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance for the 2020 Hurricane Season."

  • Now, with the more contagious Delta variant surging, particularly in the hurricane-prone Southern states, FEMA officials want to step up protections against the virus, with COVID-safe shelters, a White House official told Axios.
  • Hurricane preparedness, along with other natural disasters, forms a key part of FEMA's COVID-19 Pandemic Operational Guidance All-Hazards action plan.

The big picture: Biden on Tuesday held a briefing on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic in hurricane-prone states in the South and Southeast with FEMA administrator Deanne Criswell, chief medical adviser Anthony Fauci and members of his Homeland Security and COVID-19 Response teams.

  • "The President was briefed on the data that demonstrates that the most important preparatory step people can take to prepare for peak hurricane season is to get vaccinated to ensure they will be protected from COVID-19 if they have to evacuate their homes," per a White House readout.
  • "They also discussed how FEMA is innovating during the pandemic by working with partner organizations to enable COVID-safe sheltering, providing vaccination options at shelters and recovery centers, and protecting its workforce so they maintain mission readiness."

Go deeper: NOAA's updated hurricane outlook calls for even more storms in 2021

Go deeper

20 hours ago - Health

Illinois mandates daycare workers to receive COVID vaccine or weekly testing

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker speaks during a round table discussion with high school students in October 2018. Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) announced Friday that all daycare workers in the state will be required to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or or submit to weekly testing.

Driving the news: Pritzker said he was issuing the requirement to protect "babies, toddlers, and young children not yet eligible for the vaccine."

23 hours ago - Health

CDC director: U.S. may change definition of "fully vaccinated" as boosters roll out

CDC Director Rochelle Walensky. Photo: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty Images

Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Friday the U.S. "may need to update" its definition for what it means to have full vaccination against COVID.

The big picture: The CDC and the FDA have officially approved boosters with every authorized vaccine in the U.S. for people who meet specific requirements. Walensky explained that since not everyone is eligible for a booster, the definition has not been changed "yet."

Oct 21, 2021 - Axios Denver

Colorado COVID cases pose continued concern

Expand chart
Data: N.Y. Times; Cartogram: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

COVID-19 hospitalizations in the state continue to climb, with case counts here outpacing all but two states nationwide.

By the numbers: Colorado stands out as one of only 10 states that saw infections increase during the past two weeks, a New York Times analysis shows.