COVID-19 and Hurricane Season: Devastation at the Louisiana Texas Borderline
Updated: Sep 18, 2020
It's no secret now that hurricane season completely disregards social distancing protocols of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Back in May, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration anticipated a more intense hurricane season in 2020: the agency forecasted 13 to 19 named storms, of which six to 10 would become hurricanes.
This past Thursday, the most recent hurricane, Category 4 Laura, left widespread destruction across the state of Louisiana, also leaving its mark in Texas and Arkansas. There were sustained winds up to 150 mph, ripping roofs, topping over trees, and flooding streets. In the state of Louisiana, 6 confirmed deaths were tied to Hurricane Laura, and millions are left without electricity.
But this evacuation has spurred on a new problem: a possible increase in Covid-19 cases.
Texas has recorded at least 627,901 coronavirus cases and 12,603 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic. In Louisiana, there have been at least 145,637 cases and 4,874 deaths. In Arkansas 58,745 cases, and 739 deaths. Over the past weeks, these states have experienced a drop in the average number of new cases each day, according to the New York Times database.
Over half a million people were ordered to evacuate, and despite many staying in government-paid hotels or their vehicles, experts still worry about a new spike in cases. This is because according to Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, many testing sites in Laura's path were shut down, so officials won't be able to determine quickly the impact on COVID-19 cases.
For hospitals across Texas and Louisiana, it was necessary to plan and prepare ahead of time. So many, postponed non-urgent procedures to accommodate patients that were potentially injured by the storm. Paul Salles, CEO of the Louisiana Hospital Association, noted, however, that power outages may be a concern for hospitals because they may not have access to city water.
As of early August nine named storms were formed: Arthur, Bertha, Cristobal, Dolly, Edouard, Fay, Gonzalo, Hanna, and Isaias- now add Laura to the list. This record pace of storms, will likely not slow down, so we civilians need to prepare too.
How should you prepare? Every year, hurricane preparedness is extremely important, but with the heightened intensity of the 2020 hurricane season (due to climate factors) on top of an economy that's being threatened, it's even more crucial to be proactive.
That is why we should give ourselves even more time to prepare for evacuation, following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) recommendations. This means planning where you will stay days before because storm shelters, that although will protect you from the storm, will increase your chances of being exposed and transmitting Covid-19. Do not ignore orders to evacuate and remember to bring an emergency kit with masks, hand sanitizer, cleaning wipes when evacuating.
CDC proposes three important concepts for actionable hurricane season preparation amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.
Planning Evacuation: This includes all the necessary actions that go into planning where you will stay, preparing a "go kit," and reviewing evacuation routes.
Sheltering and Social Distancing: Mass shelters will typically sacrifice distancing protocols to accommodate for more people. That is why this should be a last resort. Ready NC advises that following local government websites for information on non-congregate sheltering options like dormitories, campgrounds, or other facilities where people can use and also maintain distance during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Recovery after Hurricane: In this phase, depending on the damage of the hurricane, it is important to contact Public Assistance so they can conduct damage assessments. Preventative actions should not be forgotten either especially with a pandemic still going on: washing hands, wearing masks, etc. Pre-existing mental conditions along with Post-event grief should also not be neglected. For more information, visit the links below.
Hurricane Season During Covid-19 Pandemic:
Extremely Active Hurricane Season 2020: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/08/06/noaa-hurricane-season-2020-extremely-active-25-storms/3308496001/
Covid-19 Complicates Response to Hurricane Laura:
How Hospitals Coped with Laura:
Hurricanes and Covid-19:
Busy Atlantic Hurricane Season:
For more information:
Follow CNN's Predictions about 2020 Atlantic Hurricane Season: https://www.cnn.com/2020/05/11/us/2020-atlantic-hurricane-season-fast-facts/index.html
Drone Video about Devastation of Hurricane Laura:
How Climate Change Has Contributed to Hurricane Season 2020:
Coping with Disaster:
Substance Abuse Disaster Distress: