Hurricanes and Wildfires Are Compounding #COVID-19 Risks - Scientific American
During the three days before Hurricane Harvey hit, the number of grocery store and gas station visits in the Houston area increased by 50% to 100%. People didn’t think twice about running to the store.
As Hurricane Laura headed for the Louisiana and Texas coasts, residents were in very a different situation. The rise of COVID-19 illnesses and deaths across the South during the summer meant people were encouraged to self-quarantine and limit their social contact to prevent transmitting the coronavirus. They could still wear masks in stores, but keeping the recommended six feet apart gets harder when stores get crowded. It means spending more time waiting with others in lines and jostling in the aisles. Research shows that both the amount of virus and the amount of time a person is exposed to it have an impact on whether they get infected and how severely.
An even more onerous complication – for both authorities and residents – is evacuation.
The decision to evacuate in the face of even a single hazard, whether a wildfire or a hurricane, is difficult.
Sheltering in place can mean life-threatening conditions, prolonged power outages and disrupted access to critical facilities. Evacuating means leaving behind one’s house and possibly animals to an uncertain fate.
That’s complicated further when an emergency shelter is the best choice, but staying in one can mean a higher risk of being exposed to someone infected with the coronavirus.