Will COVID-19 Pandemic Affect Hurricane Preparation
Floridians are in the crosshairs of two natural disasters—the upcoming hurricane season and the current COVID-19 pandemic. Many officials have begun to speak to the news media about the concerns they have. There is no guarantee that the pandemic will be over by June, when the traditional hurricane season starts.
Concerns over Sheltering the Homeless
After a hurricane, many people have no place to live and must move into a temporary shelter. However, these tightly packed quarters would serve as ideal breeding grounds for the transmission of the novel coronavirus, which spreads through respiratory droplets.
Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have called on government officials to issue clear guidance about how to evacuate and shelter during a pandemic. Most of the time, people are taken to local high school gymnasiums, but this might not be the ideal approach.
Some possible suggestions have been administering rapid tests or temperature screening before allowing people inside the shelters. However, there is still a problem of what to do with people who are sick, when it probably is not safe to take them to the hospital.
Another option is to find larger shelters, so that people have more space. Typically, shelters try to give each person at least 20 square feet of space, but the pandemic might require that people get 36 square feet. An alternative is to rent hotel rooms to keep people safe, though that also poses challenges. For one, it is expensive. For another, the hotels could themselves be vulnerable to the storm.
Overburdened Medical Infrastructure is Another Concern
Hospitals are usually overwhelmed during hurricanes, since smaller hospitals sometimes transfer patients to larger hospitals where they will be safe during a storm. But the pandemic could be putting stress on hospitals with sick patients. This means there are fewer beds for people to come from nearby hospitals to ride out the storm.
Fortunately, the size of the COVID-19 pandemic in Florida has been somewhat muted compared to states like New York. As of April 12, hospitals report that they have plenty of beds, so this is only a hypothetical problem at this time.
Economic Downturn Also Risks Undermining Preparedness
Another concern is that people will not stock up on necessary supplies because they are financially strapped. As Florida’s director of the Division of Emergency Management told the Miami Herald, many people will not stock up on supplies like non-perishable food and fuel for a generator because they cannot afford it. Consequently, these folks will be looking for government help if a disaster strikes.
Prepare for the Worst
No one should let the COVID-19 pandemic keep them from seeking help during or after a storm. However, our readers can still prepare. For example, you might buy a mask to wear in a shelter, which can reduce the transmission of the virus. You can also commit to leaving the state if a storm approaches so you will be out of harm’s way when it lands in Florida. This way, you will not need to shelter with other people in cramped quarters.
Contact our Hurricane Insurance Claim Attorneys
Hurricanes and other natural disasters cost Floridians billions of dollars each year. For help making an insurance claim, speak with a Daytona Beach hurricane insurance claims attorney at Bundza & Rodriguez today.