COVID-19: Beyond the Virus

Gabriela Carvajal, Web Editor Assistant

  With hurricane season quickly approaching, more questions and concerns arise as the country slowly reopens. For most states who are impacted by hurricanes yearly, this health crisis has affected the way government officials prepare. 

   The coronavirus has hit the state of Florida hard with over 47,000 cases confirmed (CDC), but for state officials this isn’t the only headache they are dealing with. Hurricane season is merely two weeks away and with no plan set in motion, officials are frantically scavenging for emergency protocols appropriate with the coronavirus. Pushed by a sense of urgency, this leads to a rushed job by the government to quickly come up with something, which leaves me to believe that they are not currently in our best interests.

 After an interview, the Division of Emergency Management Director, Jared Moskowitz, voiced, “[It’s possible that] Florida officials might not open mass shelters or schools during a hurricane. [Alternatively,] the government might use hotels, paid for with federal funds, and deploy ride sharing services to shuttle people out of harm’s way (Miami Herald).” Many are discounting how the hospitals be able to handle it. Those working in the medical field are fearing possible overflow of patients, especially the hospitals who are dealing with COVID patients. 

  The coronavirus pandemic exacerbates the situation at hand — if a hurricane were to strike this summer/fall, it is imperative that government officials get it together and release a statement of action. The question is: “Do we change the concept of evacuating at all? The state is discussing whether to issue stay-at-home orders for Category 1 and 2 storms, rather than evacuating, for people living in homes built after 1996” (Miami Herald).

   As a possible substitute buses are being viewed as a possible escape-route, even with the sanitation argument, so gas cards are also on the table. For Miami-Dade, the Director of Emergency Management is looking for other options in the event of widespread evacuations. If conditions aren’t as bad, they will ensure that each person will get 36 square feet of space as opposed to the original 20 in shelters.

  What many are still questioning is, what will happen post-hurricane? Government officials already ruled out outside economic help, as well as the fact that volunteers are dwindling, so hiring the unemployed is taken under advisement. Local governments especially are getting desperate for a sense of direction since the possibility of taking out loans for post-hurricane damage increases. This is becoming a reality for many small governments because the trust in FEMA has declined. After seeing the poor response Puerto Rico got from FEMA after Hurricane Maria, the faith in FEMA in the states is becoming highly questionable. The possibility of FEMA struggling with resources and a timely response could be our worst enemy if what weather forecasters are predicting for this year’s season. Forecasters are predicting a total of 16 named storms, eight hurricanes and four major storms (WeatherChanel). This in itself is a sign of an early start to our hurricane season, so prepare for the inevitable: an unusual start to 2020’s hurricane season.