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Disaster Med Public Health Prep ; 14(4): 494-503, 2020 08.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-653142


The co-occurrence of the 2020 Atlantic hurricane season and the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic creates complex dilemmas for protecting populations from these intersecting threats. Climate change is likely contributing to stronger, wetter, slower-moving, and more dangerous hurricanes. Climate-driven hazards underscore the imperative for timely warning, evacuation, and sheltering of storm-threatened populations - proven life-saving protective measures that gather evacuees together inside durable, enclosed spaces when a hurricane approaches. Meanwhile, the rapid acquisition of scientific knowledge regarding how COVID-19 spreads has guided mass anti-contagion strategies, including lockdowns, sheltering at home, physical distancing, donning personal protective equipment, conscientious handwashing, and hygiene practices. These life-saving strategies, credited with preventing millions of COVID-19 cases, separate and move people apart. Enforcement coupled with fear of contracting COVID-19 have motivated high levels of adherence to these stringent regulations. How will populations react when warned to shelter from an oncoming Atlantic hurricane while COVID-19 is actively circulating in the community? Emergency managers, health care providers, and public health preparedness professionals must create viable solutions to confront these potential scenarios: elevated rates of hurricane-related injury and mortality among persons who refuse to evacuate due to fear of COVID-19, and the resurgence of COVID-19 cases among hurricane evacuees who shelter together.

COVID-19/prevention & control , Cyclonic Storms/prevention & control , Pandemics/prevention & control , Risk Management/methods , Atlantic Ocean/epidemiology , COVID-19/epidemiology , COVID-19/mortality , Climate Change , Cyclonic Storms/mortality , Cyclonic Storms/statistics & numerical data , Emergency Shelter/methods , Emergency Shelter/trends , Humans , Pandemics/statistics & numerical data , Public Health/instrumentation , Public Health/methods , Public Health/trends , Risk Management/standards , Risk Management/trends